Snowy forecast reveals worst
fears as we batten down hatches

Sandra Chapman
Sandra Chapman

When snow is expected we develop, not surprisingly, a batten-down-the-hatches mentality.

We view the prospect of such a change in the weather with a certain fearful awe, knowing, that while we like snow, we also know of its ability to leave us stranded.

A farmer battles through the snow

A farmer battles through the snow

And in our technological society we don’t particularly like to be reminded that nature will always have one over on us no matter how sophisticated we think we are.

By Tuesday of this week I was reviewing my snow measures, checking out where I had stored the snow shovels, reviewing the contents of the fridge and asking Himself, for the tenth time, had we enough oil to keep the radiators going if we get blocked in.

You see, I know what being ‘blocked in by snow’ means. And when it happened to us in 2011 we were totally unprepared imagining that the weather forecasters probably weren’t right at all and were warning us unnecessarily.

Fortunately my farming neighbour had more sense and when I realised he was not just bringing his sheep down to lower fields, he was actually filling his barn and every shed he had with them. Someone also mentioned that the lambs might have to go into the kitchen.

My neighbour is a wise and cautious farmer, who has always put the welfare of his animals first.

The snow that did arrive that year, as we were preparing for Easter for heaven’s sake, left us buried in drifts up to 12 feet deep.

My bedroom window which faced east was in the vanguard of the storm. I couldn’t see out of it the next morning. The snow fell down for two days like the ash from a volcano determined to empty its innards in a last primeval act of nature.

Far from skipping out to launch the first snowball we realised we would have to dig ourselves out. Our cars had disappeared under the onslaught.

That holiday we were planning to leave on two days later was out of the question. And there was worse. It looked as though it could take us two days to dig a path to the wood shed for fuel for our stove. The snow set rock hard making digging very hard going.

I soon became a person who had always like snow to someone who began to fear it. And that’s how I’ve been feeling this week. I shopped for food I don’t need especially as the Christmas bounty is still in the freezer and cupboards.

We hoked out the long-life milk we keep for the boat, brought wood from the shed closer to the house and unearthed the snow boots I bought last year and which had been used just once.

Himself has looked on, clearly amused by my preparations, more concerned that the weather may delay his preparations for getting his boat ready for the season.

I hang on to every weather bulletin from Angie and Barra Best trying hard to resist getting up in the middle of the night for the more detailed weather picture from Channel 130. It’s called paranoia I suppose.

I was reminded of the snow storm depicted in the novel Lorna Doone. Could it get as bad as that again? Is this not the era of climate change when melting ice is supposedly putting at risk magnificent creatures such as the polar bear?

Haven’t scientists told us the earth is warming up and we should be preparing to grow tropical plants instead? I think there are fewer snowdrops this year. Is that a sign of climate change?

As I write, a flurry of snow has just passed. Is that the advanced guard? I really must stop this paranoia and take what nature brings.