The madness of snow

4am: insomnia

“Just as well I didn’t set my dogs on you”, the woman laughed. Art can be dangerous. “I just thought that your clothes pegs looked beautiful on your line, so was taking some pictures. It must have looked strange and odd, watching me from your kitchen window,  you must have thought me a little mad, I do apologise, I should have asked your permission”.  Art can be dangerous.

Perhaps it is best not to fight the wake of the words in the dead of the night. But it is so dam cold down here. The mad snow fall has turned to ice. Its cold permeates all.

Sandwiched between two boys on the backbone of a bed is no way to sleep. I jump in with Patrick. I can hear Naoise coughing. That lingering cough.

Back to bed now.


12pm: much later

It snowed and it snowed and it snowed. Big flakes, little flakes, tiny, tiny, tiny flakes. Abadoned cars, no grit, no snow plough. A grey heavy silence. The high school and primary schools closed. On the hill a snow man being built. Jubilant celebrations. Play with white.

Snow balls thrown into the slush puppy canal. A shaving cream valley.

I meet the woman with the three black dogs, her labrador Marnie, always gets jumpy and over excited when he sees me. The woman says ” Just give him a whack”, “I’m not going to whack your dog”, I reply.


I cannot really think straight. I’m cramming texts and papers. I’m writing an embarrassing load of nonsense. There isn’t any clarity or structure. Haven’t worked out what a methodology is yet. Is autoenthography  a methodology ? Do I need to include a Deluze or another something ? Can’t make head nor tale of Griselda and Bracha. I read and re-read.

Its kinda hard to concentrate with Syd being ill. He lies on the sofa, plugged into his iPad, he giggles at the screen, looks up at me and occasionally smiles. He is yellow. I am a rubbish nurse, clearly didn’t pick up on any of my mum’s skills. I am irritable, snappy, impatient, intolerant a bit cruel. “I HAVE TO WRITE, I HAVE TO WRITE” is my mantra. It is all too little, too much and too late. As mum says “the gods are against me”. I’m feeling caged by this PhD proposal writing and I am bored of Syd’s illness. Walking out on the hills for one hour each day provides some freedom and perspective, but when there is all this snow, all I want to do is be outside in it, up the hill rolling a snowman’s head, finding my head. A head made entirely of snow. Buried in cold.


Just got  back from the GP’s. Syd is washed out and weak, and I am feeling guilty that I’ve ignored him. Too  much juggling not enough mothering. The house is a sty. He has blood tests for viral meningitis and anemia. He doesnt want to hold my hand or even have me in the room for comfort, he rejects my efforts. Boys, teenagers, just at the moment when you think you might be useful, they might need you, they turn you away. You can never get it right. I am a motherly embarrassment. From the plastic blue chaired room I here “Helen”, “Helen”, its the nurse calling. Syd has fainted. “Second teenager whose done this, this week” she exclaims. Poor love lying on the reclining chair, eyes closed, floppy and now white instead of pale. Me and the nurse fuss around him with cups of water in plastic and bowls of cardboard.


All the birds were silent. They were shocked by the snow. All the birds were silent and nowhere to be seen. Hiding in bush, heather or crack of stone wall. The silence of the birds is eery.

A man sledging with his four year old son. ” I wish I had had this when I was four” he proclaims. ” You have it now” I respond. I look on with envy. Sledging that hill is the best fun ever. The snowmen that we made on Sunday are still intact. The snowmen are multiplying, a whole family of five in the field, circled by foot prints.

There are children canoeing in the lake at Dobroyd Castle. There voices are happy and lift upwards, I hear the instructors bossing.

So much snow. So much snow.

Later I take Syd for a small walk . We buy fingers of fudge from the village store. Then chips. We walk along the canal. I carry the small paper parcel of chips. It is warm and neat, it reminds me of the heat of a new born baby. The chips are so yummy. I feed Syd like a pecking bird from the parcel.

The oven buzzer sounds.







  • Miladysa

    “just at the moment when you think you might be useful, they might need you, they turn you away. You can never get it right. I am a motherly embarrassment.”

    I heard an old saying the other day, something about writing being easy, you just open a vein and bleed on the page. In these web pages you are bleeding. Letting it drip, trickle and gush. Exposing the blood to the air without attempting to clean it up, stem the flow with a plaster or feign apology for the mess. As a mother my (shared) cuts bleed too and I find your words cathartic. Thank you for sharing them x

  • Anna Francis

    This shows that the new pain (new for me, with a one year old) never really goes away. This is a great piece of writing.

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