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Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

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Roy Noble Roy Noble | 16:13 UK time, Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Our immediate world is under snow. Well, large tracts of the the Heads of the Valleys are anyway and, walking with Dylan one morning this week. I found the snow to be the noisiest I've ever known.

The temperature was very low - minus 8 according to one pundit I met in the closed off corrie that is Cwmdare. The sun was shining, low but brightly over the ridge that leads to Maerdy in the Rhondda Fach, and the snow was at its glistening best, hard and crunchy to the foot-fall. So crunchy in fact that everyone who had ventured out commented on it and you could hear people walk at a distance of 100 yards. All right, metres.

The snow, although not deep, has made an impression this past week. On Friday night, on a visit to Tesco to get Dylan's biscuits, it started snowing and the flakes were the biggest I have ever known. They were the size of side plates in a table setting. Quite magnificent, but not good quality, for they were very damp.However, the low temperatures meant they froze quickly on the roads and caused mayhem.

Snow for me, feeds the memory with the ghosts of snow storms past. I'm sure I remember the heavy fall of 1947, when I was only four. I could walk over my Mamgu's garden gate. No bother at all and one night there were strange lights in the sky. The aurora borealis over Brynaman, the Northern Lights dancing over the Derlwyn Arms pub and Danny "Rhiw Ddu"'s farm. No doubt about it, and to see them again remains an ambition of mine. It's a pity really that Joanna Lumley has stolen my thunder, but, no odds, I'll get there one day, be it Norway or Canada.

In 1963 I was in Cardiff Training College. It was a winter so deep and severe that Roath Lake froze for a couple of months. We could walk across it from one campus to another and, on one occasion a short game of rugby was played on it. The lake lay like concrete. I can't recall where the ducks went for solace.

My father clearing our drive in Brynaman, 1963

My father clearing our drive in Brynaman, 1963

Up in Cwmdare this week, there was still enough unfrozen water for the Canada geese and other duck varieties to paddle about, leading to one dog walker to comment: "If there is reincarnation I don't want to come back as a duck. Not in weather like this." Mind you, when the Canada geese start their pre-flight squawking and they take off in formation, slowly rising above the lake, what a sight they make. It's beaten only when the squadron comes back in and each duck uses its wings in a full flap brake angle and its legs in cushion landing mode. Even then, not every duck has mastered the art and one or two are all over the place.

Ah, the memory too of gaining Brownie points from my son on a snowy week in 1978. He was only three and was excited by the snow. You couldn't buy plastic sledges then, but I was his hero when I went out to the garage with a chair that was surplus to requirements. I knocked the legs off, screwed some cut planks across the legs for a seat and added thick cord as the uphill towing line. Man oh man, what a cresta run vehicle it proved to be. We had years of snowy service out of it.

Braving the elements on a slope in Landare, Aberdare in the late 1970s

Braving the elements on a slope in Landare, Aberdare in the late 1970s

The magic of snow. Apparently, the Inuit have over 40 names for it... or is it more? I'm looking out of the window at it as I write. What a sight it makes. And under this covering our lawn looks just as good as any one else's.

You have to wonder about global warning don't you? At minus 8 in Cwmdare, the only thing hot around here is the argument about global warming.


Roy Noble is bringing his famous storytelling skills to a computer near you as part of the BBC First Click Campaign - aimed at encouraging people to take their first steps to getting online. If you know somebody who needs help to get online, call the free BBC First Click advice line on 08000 150950.


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