9th February 2021

Waking up this morning, I saw a brightness peaking out at the edge of the dark blinds.

freshly fallen snow outside my window, 9th Feb 2021

The brilliant white blanket, long-awaited, had fallen over the country at last. We were muffled up inside our homes: vaccine appointments were being missed, roads were quiet.

But as I moved towards the covered glass panes, about to unroll the blind, I realised, too, that so many around the country, waking up and climbing out of bed now, could see that same brightness shining softly upon the fringes of their windowpanes.

I called a close friend who I hadn’t seen in months because of the restrictions – Anna.

Yes, there was snow outside her house, too! Anna told me that she had never been beside the sea in the snow before. But as she walked and talked to me, she could see that the snow had fallen over little boats that had been left stranded on fields of land by the receding tide. It had fallen over the boats, over the land, over the sea, and there were stores of it in the clouds and the sky: all was very quiet and white.

Anna’s photograph of the snow on the beach front, 9th Feb 2021

After calling Anna, I went outside, too. I walked for a very long time, into the depths of a wood and later out onto an open heath land.

Often, I would come across the footprints of other walkers. They would guide me onto paths I had never taken before, up and around tangles of trees and white mounds of brambles. I placed my feet in theirs, guessing at their ages, heights, moods.

Then, as I abandoned their paths and made a way into thickly drifted, untouched snow, I began to notice the prints of animals.

the marks of a thinking crow

One rabbit had jumped along the trunk of a fallen tree, up into its horizontal, broken branches, and then straight down to a little hole in the ground below. A herd of deer had raced up and down a steep bank, their legs sinking deep into the snow, and scattering it around as they jumped again. A cat had walked carefully into the middle of a garden, paced around for a while, and then doubled back on itself.

I followed their prints and looked back to see mine, walking alongside theirs.

scattered feathers captured by the snow

Finally, the paths I was following took me out from within the woods and into a field.

Across its dips and rises, I could see the directions other walkers had gone in, from one end of the field to another. Their lines met, sometimes, in sections of the field. I wondered if they had come across one another in person, or had seen the prints of absent others suddenly appear beneath their feet.

close to the fence and then away

I walked home and realised I hadn’t seen another living creature on the entire walk.

by Julia Lasica