After the Snow

In the park the rapidly receding snow unveils an emerging sea of green; a microcosm of the receding arctic punctuated with the lumpish remains of snowmen; like icebergs, or standing stones to a vanished god, ghosts of lost faiths and colder climes. A parakeet at the top of an oak tree screeches its bewilderment at where it is and how it got here.

It has to be said that the quality of snowmen round here took a qualitative upturn around about 2005, when so many people arrived from Eastern Europe. Up until then, snowmen had been a bit perfunctory and amateurish, people unused to significant snow going out and making a gesture, then rushing home before they got chilblains. I recall going down to the park with the kids and rolling together an attenuated skinny looking thing with stick arms about three feet high, and looking across at cheerful groups of young Polish people erecting competing versions of the colossi of Kingsbury with construction tools, all of which had the girth of Henry VIII and towered above them. One guy was jumping up and down trying to get high enough to plant a hat on its enormous round head. Of course, since Autumn 2019, what with Brexit and COVID, 1.3 million overseas born workers have left the country, over half of them from London, leaving the bigger, better snowmen as a momento.

The skinny Santa climbing the walls on the last house on Kingsbury Road still festooned with Xmas decorations now looks like a suspended hostage.

Walking up the hill in startling late January sunlight, a half moon looms low and large, dusty seas clearly visible, as a more eloquent warning of what a dead planet looks like than all the articles I’ve been reading this morning. Sometimes we need to cast our eyes up.

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