... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Friday, 3 December 2010

The sound of the snow

The thing with a thick blanket of snow is how quiet everything is. No passing cars, no singing birds, no echoes, and distant noise absorbed rather than travelling onwards to our ears.

Sleeping in Chertsey's cabin last Friday night, I could occasionally hear the fire settling in the stove, the kettle gently singing sotto voce. At midnight I stoked the fire, and moved the kettle, not wanting the place to be full of steam, and all was quiet. Until at four I again awoke to a gentle rustling hissing sound, like but not like that of light rain on the cabin top above me. I checked and it wasn't the kettle; it wasn't the fire. I opened the hatches and saw that it had just begun to snow, lightly, onto the frozen canal. Could I really have heard it, I ask myself now, whispering on the steel above my head? It seems incredible. Yet at the time - and what could be more reliable - it was certain that there was nothing else it could have been. And by the time the grey dawn broke, there was a light dusting of white over everything, as light and dry as icing sugar dusted from a sieve (not the wet claggy stuff we get down here that turns into treacherous ice as soon as you touch it).


  1. What a lovely, evocative post.
    Carrie x

  2. Old Monsty was even more in contact with the snow, as it brushed his tent in the hold

  3. Where he had insisted on being, I hasten to add!

  4. A lovely post! I'm from Alaska and I can assure you snow and ice do talk, but most of the time there's too much ambient noise to hear it. The Inuit people have 150 words for snow. In a very cold winter(-30F) it is possible to hear the Northern Lights. They sound like bells tinkling. The Inuit say it is the laughter of their unborn children at play. Thank you for sharing your observations. You are a fine writer.
    Warm regards,