Thursday, 23 December 2010

Midwinter Weather Report

Yesterday afternoon at the library I checked the Met Office weather reports for Lowestoft, Southwold and Norwich. Heavy snowfall was due in Norwich in the mid-afternoon, but in Suffolk the temperatures would be 2 or 3 degrees above freezing and the prediction was for rain.

Do we go to the TN Christmas party? We decided to play it by ear. We’d have to leave around five. At half past three it SNOWED. It was NOT supposed to SNOW at all anywhere near Southwold.

I just missed the four o’ clock local weather report on the radio. I phoned National Express to find out about the state of the trains. There was an automated message that stated the trains were running on time AND a warning about poor weather affecting services in East Anglia.

Should we make the journey? Last week, coming home from the London Bee Summit along the icy back roads we found ourselves at ten o’ clock at night in a snowstorm. I didn't see the corner and we careened into a ditch on a deserted country lane seven miles from home. And whilst I’d since recovered my nerve (with the help of a fellow Transitioner from Sustainable Bungay who not only pulled the car out the next day but gave me an excellent lesson on driving on icy roads and chaperoned me home, thank you David), I still felt cautious.

It was dark by now. Then suddenly we found ourselves in the kitchen preparing coleslaw and fava bean salads and packing up plates and cutlery and apple juice. And putting on even more layers of clothes. I kept muttering about the weather and maybe we should just stay home, but physically I was doing something else.

I looked outside. It was raining and there was no snow on the lane. It didn’t feel too cold. It looked like we were on our way.

“ICE INSIDE THE WINDOWS!” Didy shuddered. It was an early Sustainable Bungay meeting in 2008, we were talking about carbon reduction and central heating and Didy was suddenly remembering the bleak midwinters of her childhood. She wasn't the only one. No one wanted to go back there!

Last winter as part of Transition Circles' aim of reducing our personal carbon emissions, we decided to forego the central heating for anything but drying clothes, or when people came to visit. It was cold. We wore more clothes. We lit the woodburner once a week. We really enjoyed it when people came!

So though this is "the worst winter in 100 years", my body remembers last year's experience. I've toughened up.

What was striking yesterday was the amount of time I spent worrying in my mind about taking the car out, taking the train, snow, black ice, WEATHER! But my body was in the experience. With its creaturehood, its earth intelligence.

On the night the car went into the ditch, neither Charlotte nor I were actually afraid. We locked the car and walked onto the lane. As we got to the corner we saw headlights approaching (very slowly!). We waved, the man stopped to give us a hand. The car was stuck. Peter insisted on taking us home in that blizzard in totally the opposite direction to where he was going with his daughter after a party.

The mind needs to have everything under control AT ALL TIMES. I Will Be Safe In My Little World. But then there's no opening for anything else to happen. It's when we lose control that something surprising appears round the corner...

Pics: Ice Inside The Windows, Snow Car Ditch, We Got To The Party (and Back) - Lights in the Tree and Elena's Paper Snowflakes

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