Like you, perhaps, I have been separated from the world forcibly this weekend, because of snowstorms that have isolated my home in a way I have never known before.
Snow lies 13 inches deep, and the silence is immense. The great oaks are laden with icy garlands like shrouds, forming a white wall encircling us, and this wall of snow extends layer by layer into an infinity that goes on forever, wherever I look. All access for miles around is closed, satellites do not function and the power splutters erratically as it is tested to the limit. There is no noise, there are no people: a cloak of invisibility is spread upon us.
The peace and stillness given to me by Mother Nature have engendered a sense of unreality. The outside world, the world of bustle and human life, of news and crisis does not exist when all that does exist is a frozen inner world of warmth, firelight, family and a larder fortuitously full of food. I cannot go anywhere, see anyone, be distracted by television. My only duty is to carve channels through towering snowdrift pillars to leave food for the wildlife that make this place their home, and to clear a path help my cat, who is so much smaller than the snowy billows that are everywhere.
Many, many other people are having their own extraordinary experiences of the elements at this time too, and not always easily. I am fortunate today, and for this reason I do not forget those who are losing home and loved ones in desperate conditions through fire and flood and extremes of temperature. Nature can be cruel, and sadly sometimes people make nature seem cruel; sometimes, too, people do not help themselves.
In the great snowstorm that has enveloped my home and my life this weekend, I am reminded of how very fortunate I am to have been given all I need to live through it relatively comfortably, and to realise how easily it could have been otherwise. Wherever we are, whoever we are, however much money we have or not, we all are at the mercy of the elements, and the elements may prove this truth at any time, whether living in a rural mountain retreat in Wales or a mansion in Southern California.
It may be very different for me next time, and it is for that reason, too, that I am so very grateful. And it is not over yet……