The words, “Winter outdoor activities” meant only two things to me as a child. Snowmen and sledging. Growing up in the Midlands, Winter’s greatest gift to me as a little girl was what was pretty much a guaranteed snowfall around the time of our school Christmas holidays. It was always the good stuff too; the kind that sticks together and rolls into brilliant and enormous snowmen. Those snowmen whose construction puts those muscle bound boulder lifting men on the television to shame. My Dad would bravely risk a hernia to heave the head into place and after decorating we would proudly watch our frosty creation from the warmth of our living room for days, drinking milky hot chocolate, as the thaw slowly snatched him from us.
Winter was picturesque, and the lyrics to our favourite Christmas songs fit our situation like a snow-encrusted glove, year after year as we clipped holly (the kind with the berries, my mum said it bought good luck) in the woods, bundled in huge winter duffle coats with our scarves strapped across our chests like harnesses. I never knew anything other than a white Christmas.
Naively assuming that most places in England benefited from the same weather, when I moved to Hampshire it was disappointing to say the least to discover that Winter was largely a soggy affair; and whilst it was true that this meant less time slipping on black ice or ruining my suede boots in the slush and sleet, it also meant my white Winter wonderlands were no more. The beauty of my childhood, those white, fondant blankets of perfection were lost.
In 2001, two bundles of Siberian happiness bounced into our lives, with a new perspective on the closing season of the year. After what seemed like a million (unsolicited) husky and sledge comments, we finally did it. We bought a rig. No snow needed. We headed to the forest, hooked up the boys and gingerly learned to mush.
With the heartbreaking loss of our white wolf, Casanova, to cancer this year it wouldn’t be fair of us to expect Excalibur to pull either of us alone this Winter; but Our Little Adventurer can ride, and this weekend was his first time.
Tiny bodies get cold and grumpy very easily in December air, and so we headed out to our favourite supermarket at the bottom of the hill to gather hot chocolatey supplies and baking ingredients that would put warmth and happiness into our little boys’ bellies. We had to ask for the BIG bar of chocolate…it seems everyone has the same idea at this time of year!
Debuts should be memorable, and magical…especially Winter ones.
Cheeks flushed after his mushing debut, Our Little Adventurer munched on home baked spiced gingerbread moose biscuits with sparkly, snow clumped hooves and smiled like a cheeky elf with his baby brother as rich hot chocolate moustaches slowly emerged above their frosted, petal pink lips. Frozen toes and frosty fingertips were forgotten as they played hide and seek with their Siberian sibling around the huge oak trunks, puffing giggles like mystical dragons into the clear afternoon air.
Soon it was time for home, the kicking and heaving off of wellies, and snuggling on the sofa. Later, after hot bubbly baths and cozy Christmas jammies, one little musher and a musher in waiting snuggled down to sleep as the mister and I indulged in some homemade reindeer (carrot) soup…and I, following the advice of our dear Queen this Christmas, took some time to reflect. Whilst I still wake on December mornings, hoping for a snowfall and snow day for my boys, a day like today makes for no less of a magical childhood than the sparkly scenarios I experienced as a child. Wintertime weaves its magic and brings us together to celebrate in so many ways…and of course, there’s always snow at Granny’s…