50 Word Stories: Waiting For Snow
There’s a steel to the morning a cold unblinking chill. Birds fly with flapping scarves trailing, a dog wear’s three fleecy jackets and a squirrel just peers from his drey. Winter has set its sights on the foreseeable and wishes all to know. I do know, now where’s my snow?
The comforts of snow were not lost on those who worked in the pits. Darkness, permeated only by the will-o’-the-wisp headlights of our workmates, filled our heads and hearts; several thousand tonnes of rock overhead would do that to you. In between breaths choked with shattered shale and coal dust, we would dig and pray, dig and pray, then pray some more.
The bell to signifying the changing shifts brought little in the way of relief; tiredness had broken us, we were nothing but jet-black ghosts. Seasons meant little down below, deep in the depths, but not so above.
When the lift breached the shaft entrance and flooded us with blinding white light, I for one thought we might have got off in heaven. I was wrong. I was always wrong, and glad to be. White blankets of peace and frigid air purged more than just ragged breaths, they purged our souls. Such was a miner’s lot in the Yorkshire coal fields, and the reason we valued our Christmases so greatly.
Winter was my real home, my only home. The sweaty explorations of a humid summer meant little to my youth. Spring was a time of fleeting colours but never of extended joy. Autumn rusted before my eyes and only brought sadness. Winter offered serene purity. I’d have dwelled there forever.
“When the rain turned white winter had arrived.”
I wasn’t sure what Grandpa meant by that, it could snow any time of year? It had even snowed in June once.
“Ah, puzzled, eh, Piotr? No need. You see, it didn’t stop. The snow started to fall in small speckles of white, then flakes, then great paper doilies. It grew faster, too. By the time we’d all got our winter clothes on, hats gloves and scarves, the snow fell so heavily it was a wall of solid white like being caught in an avalanche or getting stuck in a cloud.
“How long did it last, Grandpa?”
“Ooh, a good year, perhaps, a touch more. We lived off our summer stores, drank plenty of melted snow from a pan, and just lasted it out really.”
“So, when it finished, when it finally came to a stop…”
“What did you do?”
“What all kids would’ve, we went outside and built snowmen.”