It’s a December Sunday in North London and it’s snowing. Hard. Well, hard by UK standards, but the snow is of a pretty decent quality and the snowballs have been flying all morning. Of course we don’t have a snow shovel because it never snows in London. Except for when it does. It’s one of the things I was worried the kids would miss out on when we moved from New Jersey (lots of waist-high snow) to London (the occasional flake). What is childhood without snow days, school closures, snow forts and angels, hot cocoa with marshmallows, icicles in your hair and red, chapped, frozen hands that can only be fully warmed by standing over a roaring stove flame for at least 10 minutes?
Before you go feeling bad for them, rest assured that they have had a fair amount of snow exposure in the 8 years since we left the USA and moved to London, whether skiing in France, visiting family back in the States during the winter and once or twice right here in our own backyard. But today’s snow is the real deal and now that we’ve rolled a ginormous snow ball intended for the base of a snowman, and created the beginnings of an igloo using a plastic shoebox as a mold for bricks, it’s time to clear a path from the front door to my car.
Being the resourceful person that I am, I improvised with a broom because I refuse to buy a shovel again. Oh, yes, I said “again”. I HAD a shovel which I ran out and bought the last time a “huge” snowstorm was forecast for London. It was only a few months after we moved here in 2009 and I didn’t know my way around. I hadn’t yet embraced Amazon for anything other than books so I walked to our local hardware store and was sold the only shovel they carried: a very heavy, metal GARDEN shovel. Actually it was more the sort of shovel one might use for a landscaping job. Or burying a large pet. No one in the store could understand that there was a whole different (lightweight) shovel meant for moving snow.
So I took that shovel back to our house and waited for the snow to come. It never came. We moved to a different house in London 6 years later and I have no idea what ever became of that shovel. I do know that while we owned it, it never came out of its plastic wrapping.
Fast forward 8 years to this morning when I needed something to move some snow out of my way and all I could find in the shed is sort of a large garden spade or trowel outside– see photo– which might have been left behind by the previous owners of the house we now live in. I smiled, remembering that first winter here when we were fresh off the boat from America and the kids were so little.