Snow and reading

Finally some snow! Not a flake to be seen around these parts last winter but on Boxing Day we had a decent covering. So in the spirit of making the best of everything that winter has to offer and being mindful to go outdoors we went out with the kids and threw snowballs, made a snowman and did a bit of sledging.


Cemetery snow

Cemetery snow

After which in the evening, prompted by the Guardian piece on winter reads, I dug out an old copy of Tales of Terror and Darkness by the fabulously-named Algernon Blackwood and read his short story The Glamour of the Snow. It’s a good tale in the supernatural horror tradition about a man holidaying in the Alps who is lured into mortal danger by the spirits of Nature; ‘And something born of the snowy desolation, born of the midnight and the silent grandeur, born of the great listening hollows of the night, something that lay ‘twixt terror and wonder, dropped from the vast wintry spaces down into his heart – and called him.’ It’s just the thing for a bit of bedtime reading at this time of the year and it reminded me that in England at least there is something of a tradition of ghost stories at Christmas, the enduring master of which is M.R. James, a Cambridge scholar who wrote some classics of the English ghost story genre that can give a gratifying chill up the spine, especially when enjoyed by a fire with maybe a glass of port at hand. So reading ghost stories is going on the list of winter activities

Stay up 'til 3 a.m. and scare yourself silly

Stay up ’til 3 a.m. and scare yourself silly

There is some good M.R. James related stuff here

After this we headed south to visit family. We got no snow but I was ticking off so many winter classics I thought I would get a full house; great hoar frosts, misty woodland walks, frozen ponds, log fires, almost everything one needs for the perfect winter mood. I also got into some more winter reading with Arthur Ransome’s Winter Holiday (given to me by Jo last year), a ripping children’s yarn set in an ice and snow-bound Lake District. It’s enjoyable even as an adult and perfect for the season.

Frost in the forest

Frost in the forest

All in all it was a good reminder of the importance of getting outdoors and enjoying all these things while we can, to keep us nourished during the days of grey when the icy rain slants in almost sideways and the wind tries to rip the roof off.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite snow-time listens

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