(After reading advice from the Environment Agency asking people to build snowmen to reduce flood risk.)
Something odd happened this morning. When I drew back my curtains, there was a large and flustered-looking snowman in the back garden. I hadn’t built it. The children hadn’t built it. They didn’t seem as surprised as I was, and said perhaps it built itself.
‘Snowmen can’t do that.’ I said.
‘They might,’ they said.
‘They don’t because they haven’t got hands to build themselves with, until they’re built.’ Well, I knew what I meant.
We examined him after breakfast. I’m not what it was about him that looked flustered, but he did. Something in the angle of his carrot nose, perhaps. A startled expression in his sultana eyes.
‘Maybe he was in a hurry to get here,’ suggested my son, adjusting the snowman’s scarf. It was very cold out in the garden.
As we walked to school that morning, there were two more snowmen, one with a briefcase and one with a shopping bag, heading down towards the station, although of course they weren’t actually moving.
‘They can’t walk,’ said my son in his matter-of-fact tone. ‘Because they haven’t got proper legs.’
‘Maybe they slide, slowly so we can’t see them. Like glaciers,’ said my daughter thoughtfully and we stopped for a little while, just in case we might catch a tiny movement.
There was a little huddle of them at the bus stop. One was reading a newspaper and looking pleased.
‘He’s probably glad about this weather,’ said my son.
We all looked at each other – ‘I didn’t know they could read…’ we said in unison and laughed, our hot breath puffing the icy air. Clearly, there was a lot we didn’t know about snowmen.
Near the school were many more snowmen with what I supposed were their children. (Who else’s are they going to be?’ said my daughter. Good point, I thought.)
I dropped my children at the school gates and walked home, wrapping my coat tightly about me to keep the weather out. ‘Morning,’ said one of the snowmen, walking a scruffy little snowdog. ‘Morning, I said then thought, did he really just speak to me? But it was hard to tell, as he’d pulled his hat further down over his face. Or maybe it had just slipped.
The snowmen stayed for a week, then it got warmer. Overnight, they were all gone. But the garden and the path to school were strewn with carrots.