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It’s the first snow I think, don’t remember it last year, I know I took our son to town for the bright blue plastic but it came to nothing and I shoved it in the cupboard.

And the year before there must have been some but it’s very hazy, that winter just before, just before the last trip north, just before the meal with Nigel, just before the blues with Al. And now the blues are dark and not quite black, it’s early and school’s closed. I’ve told him to go back to sleep before another of those days of childhood, days of innocent whiteness, numbed red fingers, heavy crunched wool and a bite you don’t feel for hours because you’re out in it, laughing and the freeze tells you you’re alive. And I popped outside, not fully dressed, scrunched out my mark and stood in the pinpricking bitter. A dawn somewhere out there an expanse called to morning, not quite yet, beyond blue beyond white.

A black shape startles me, looking for food, a disappointed flash into the trees.
And I want to get out there, wrapped up in sealskin layers, huddled in arctic softness, a silky rub against the cracks of time, with tennis rackets on my feet and steaming huskies panting our way. And it takes me everywhere, to the last garden I remember, when you were tapping away upstairs, working from home while we constructed three snowmen. Out the back and we wrapped them warmly, one for each and I have the photo somewhere, our son on the edge and proud, an expression of an older face to come though we still had a year but didn’t know.
And our snow, squealing up the Jungfrau when my hiking boots were stiff and I beamed at the top of the world and we were new and cold and the air made us dizzy.
An under it I’m in Svalbard on a quest I’ve just begun, tapping my compass and watching the twitch, pointing a route to the lights. And I drift back to now, conscious of my elbow as it leans on a book, that book and the blue has faded grey. There should be Alps out there somewhere but this changing light brushes up a hint of green, a weak shade undercover and down the lane the little angled rooves shelter one small dot of orange, a tiny slit of warmth shining, someone else looking out.

It’s strangely familiar odd, dusty iced specks, a distant whiteout but no blizzard, not yet.
Think I’ll finish this in the garden, force my feet into fur, the pond will hold a mirror out there, in the quiet mist of dusted fields, the charcoal etch of trees, the endless sheet of sky and mountains beyond it that I can’t quite see.

Looking out through the frozen water to the aching backs of snowboulders caked in slimed leaves and twigs that we shaved sides off to shove through the gate and the early morning rushing when I got him up before the alarm, to cocoon ourselves out there, for a quick grab and roll, the wet gloves before school and you saw us from the window in the days of the old world when the snow blanked out a different place and I usually wore red, but not now.

7.59a.m – in it, forgot this noise, the soft burning pittering on my hood, the fired up hands, nose and eyes run in the cold soft fall of memory.

The first snow – I don’t know where I am.
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