White Roads

The roads were white this morning, made white by salt. They looked ghostly, dry, severe. The snow had not come when I ventured out. It was waiting. The world felt like it was waiting. For something. The cold was sharp. A north-easter that stung my face. And yet, I liked it. Thanked God for it. A magical night. No one about. Nothing but this holding of breath.

They’re saying we’ll get 13 cm tonight, said the supermarket manager as he slowly fed our fruit passed the beeper. An’ they’ll be 20 tomorrow. He isn’t a smiler. No she’s not in, he said when I asked about her. She’ll be snowed in later. She said she had a really tricky time getting home last night. So much panic. And yet, I hear on the news that some people in Scotland have been trapped in their cars for over 15 hours. Bless them. I wish them warmth and relief.

As I do us. Our boiler is off. My worst nightmare. And in this weather too. The car said -4. It felt like -10. It was surreal. Way passed my bedtime and there they were four huge burly men standing around in our kitchen talking about flues. One with a bad back, one not sure if he’d make it into town this morning, one the owner (at one point lying on his belly putting his hand down a wall hatch) and another a young lad who brought a heater. Oh, and the owner’s little boy, decked out in dinosaur onesie and dinosaur slippers was also there. God knows why. Perhaps the owner thought it would soften our response. This after all appears to be his fault. A bodge-job man, methinks. Anyway, it began with me finding my bed sodden. I thought one of the hot water bottles had leaked. No it was coming from the ceiling. Drip drip. My teddy bear was drenched, as were my cushion and eiderdown. Ugh! Keep calm. We called and the burly men arrived. They had to turn it off. Carbon monoxide poisoning might have happened. Think of that. And she was so young.

We are being stoic. He lies on his bed with his coat on and he slept fully clothed last night. I didn’t. Naked as usual, I loaded with my bed with blankets, coats and throws. It was OK, though I couldn’t sleep. It was all too much. They may be back today to cut a whole in the wall so that they can access the leaking flue. Who knows? Else it will be Monday. Can we manage? He reads more snow stories from his iPad. I want to stop being scared. We survived. I bathed in a thimbleful of water from the kettle, froze but got clean. I’ve mopped the floors, done the washing, yoga, walked and made breakfast. It was OK. Life goes on. So many have it worse. I think of the man in Syria. And I know I am blessed. Always.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.