This time of year is always a little odd for me. The end of one year and the start of another sees a host of family birthdays, anniversaries, much too-ing and fro-ing, and of course, the Christmas / New Year gatherings. My own birthday falls this time of year, as does my SL rez day; which I suppose makes me a winter girl and might explain why I love snow so much both in the real world and Second Life.
One of may favourite places for winter scenery is Calas Galadhon park. I’ve written about this in the past, and I often drop in to wander and enjoy – eleven regions of open parkland is a huge delight, and full Kudos and thanks to Tymus Tenk and Truck Meredith for providing it to all SL residents. The care taken across these regions is immense, and I love the way they can change to reflect the passing season – and the fact that they do so quite naturally.
I was in Calas in October, in time to catch the arrival of the first snowfall. Back then, the snow was on the ground and on rooftops and branches, but the waters of the lake and rivers were all still ice-free and one could wander the streets with barely a hint of Christmas in the air, or take a boat out on the water.
Now, just three weeks later, the snow is falling, the lake is frozen and signs of Christmas are starting to appear.
I’m not sure what it is about snow that I find so attractive; I just do – although I’m aware I’m far from alone in feeling this way. My early life was spent living near RAF bases which, while far from “remote”, where on the flat, “boring” parts of England which the snow seemed to love. Going to bed at night with the snow falling outside used to fill me with a thrill; waking up in the morning and seeing an unblemished blanket of white lying across the garden and the fields beyond, always left me with an impatience to get out of the door which even the prospect of a day imprisoned in a classroom could not dilute; all that mattered was being out in the snow.
I think one of the attractions of a virgin snowfall – one which is deep enough to cover the ground, hide the grass beneath, etc., is the suggestion of have a new world to explore; being the first to place fresh footprints in the snow. It’s a feeling which has stayed with me throughout my life. Even today, it’s my own small Neil Armstrong moment, planting a foot into the fresh snow and then lifting it to stare at the impression left behind. I still love to watch the snow falling at night, standing out on the front porch, perhaps a mug of something warm in my hands, watching the snowflakes fall past the street lights and wondering what the morning will bring and where I’ll roam.
There is something undeniably romantic about walking in the snow, as Hollywood knows only too well. Doesn’t matter how cold the air or the time of day, it warms the heart – although I confess that walking in the evenings with the warm lights of distant homes across the park is the time I tend to enjoy the most. Perhaps its the promise of a warm room and a mug of hot chocolate and a chance to toast the toes near a fire – or as is more usually the case nowadays, against a radiator of hot water.
Nowadays of course, global warming and the shifting seasons means that more often than not, November and December tend to pass largely snow-free in this country, with heavy downfalls slowly becoming more the exception than the rule. The New Year is often more our season for snow – which is becoming more and more common well into the month of March, and has been known to put in an Easter appearance, rather than joining us for Christmas.
Which is probably why I love places like Calas Galadhon so much; they give me the freedom to enjoy the snow, to explore and recapture those childhood / teenage / adult feelings of wonder during the months with which I perhaps most associate them.
And in Calas, the attention to detail is lovely, from the gradual onset of winter, through the increasing snowfall – even the popping-up of Christmas decorations before the arrival of December. Even the appearance of dirty cart tracks marring the pristine surface of the snow along the roads leading into town is just perfect.
Of course, age tends to alter out view of winter and snow. The older we get, the less a friend it becomes; the romance fades and perhaps eventually dies. I hope I’m a long way from feeling that, should it ever happen. But if it does, I’ll still have my memories of my many meanderings, real and virtual, in some marvellous winter wonderlands.