Pouring Rain And Pink Snow


Last week there was torrential rain and flooding here in Jakarta. It was reported that at it’s worst 30% of the megalopolis was under water and 50,000 people were made homeless because of it. Tragically 15 people, possibly more died in the flooding.

Back in the Uk snow has been reeking havoc, especially in London where everything always grinds to a halt whether it’s just a few flakes or a few feet – it makes no difference. I do love the Sceptered Isle but I think it’s fair to say that it’s pretty crap when it comes to dealing with winter weather conditions. Snow and ice catch us out every time.

Jakarta-Floods-2013

I’ve got a significant birthday coming up soon. I’m not handing out prizes to anyone for guessing which one it is, if you haven’t already worked out how old I am then you haven’t been stalking me hard enough. The reason I mentioned this isn’t just because I want you all to send me loads of birthday cards, cakes and presents, it’s because I’ve found myself becoming more reflective lately. I don’t know whether it’s in any way connected to my eleventieth fast approaching or, because these days I blog and therefore spend time thinking about what posts I might write. My mind tends to wander to the past and  this then seems to trigger off feelings of nostalgia especially for my childhood. I’ve been looking at all the snow scenes and photos that friends have posted on Facebook and Twitter and it brought back a flood (obviously le mot de la semaine) of memories from the past and of the days when I was a little girl growing up in Suffolk.

Suffolk-sheep,-Suffolk-winter.-Lottie-Nevin

I have this scene so clear in my mind that I can still feel the icy nip from the wind on my face and remember well my welly glad feet which were so wet and frozen, that I’d lost all feeling in them, just a strange burning sensation. I’m standing in a field full of snow and watching the beauty of the low red  sun casting it’s pink bloom on the pure white blanket that lies all around me. My Mother’s Suffolk sheep whose fleeces normally look so white, now look grubby against the pristine white backdrop of the field as they huddle together at the manger eating hay, and a startled rabbit shoots across my path as it makes it’s way back to the woods for the evening.

Pete-Nevin.-Lottie-Nevin-drawing

In the late afternoon light I can just make out Smithy walking down the lane. She’s wearing a red, patterned wollen headscarf and one of my Oma’s tweed skirts, which is rather long on her as Oma was very tall and Smithy stands a good half-foot shorter. She’s pulling a toboggan with a hessian sack on it, which she’s been filling with small pieces of wood and kindling gathered from the hedgerows to light her fire later. I run across the field to go to talk to her. The lane is below the height of the field so I feel quite tall as I call over to Smithy through the brambles and thickets of the wayward hedge. Despite Smithy’s protests, I wriggle under the briars and the rusty barbed wire and slide down the bank so that I can be with her.

I remember looking up at her and feeling total love. Her merry, ruddy weathered cheeks were radiant from the cold, and the frosty air had made her eyes look teary. Tresses of greying hair had escaped from the sides of the headscarf and hung down around her face and I could see all her lines and wrinkles as she laughed and talked to me. By now she’d finished collecting her firewood so we walked up the snowy lane together, mittened hand in hand, until we came to my house whereupon we said goodbye and she went her way, and I went mine.

23 thoughts on “Pouring Rain And Pink Snow

  1. What beautiful memories and indeed writing. The illustrations are pretty fine, too. I think we all go through periods of reflection like this. I sailed through 40 and 50 but remember 30 being crap as it was shortly after my father died very suddenly. I’m not yet 60 but someone who has just turned 50 told me he measured his mortality in terms of how many more soccer world cups he might live to watch. I think about what has gone and what still lies ahead. I’m a great worrier but have little really to worry about. The past brings me comfort. Your Smithy sounds like my Grandma Davies, 80 years old near enough, kneeling to clean the grate in the morning, her grey hair down to her waist, brushed endlessly before being neatly tied up for the day. She smelled of love and kindness, Lucozade behind the curtain of the cubby hole, ‘cwtch down by yer’ she would say in her lilting Welsh accent. No inside loo until she was in her 70s. Tough as nails. Nine children, all fine people. Nothing wrong with looking back on happy days. I hope the significant birthday is the happiest ever. Flooded indeed with joy unbounded.

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    1. Andrew, what a stunning comment, thank you. Your Grandma Davies sounds very special indeed. Smithy helped my mum in the house for years (mum had chronic rheumatoid arthritis from the age of 19 so was unable to physically do as much as she would have wanted) and was a big part of my childhood. She made the best lemon curd in the world and was the messiest pastry maker you’ve ever seen but, we all adored her, and that snow scene comes back to me time and time again. Your birthday wishes made me smile so a HUGE thank you and I shall do my best to go as wild as possible!

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    1. Thank you Martha. I enjoyed writing it actually – it made me happy thinking about that afternoon. I wasn’t planning on doing a drawing but as I was reading through it I thought ‘why not? I haven’t got any photos so I need something that sort of resembles pink snow’ so I went over to the drawing table and did the little scribble – a sort of momento to myself of that memory if that makes any sense?!

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    1. There were indeed some magical parts of my childhood. My Mother used to boot us all outside after breakfast and say ‘Now buzz off! I don’t want to see you until lunch’ It didn’t really matter what the weather was, we were expected to disappear and amuse ourselves in the fields and the woods until we heard ‘the cowbell’. The cowbell lived outside the back door – it was a heavy old thing and not a cow bell at all – any cow that wore it would have suffered a slipped disc in no time as it weighed a ton. But it had a fantastic ‘ring’ that could be heard for miles around. Those hours spent playing outside were magic as I used my imagination, nature was my inspiration and of course the woods and copses, hedgerows and banks of wild flowers were teeming with fairies and elves, goblins and witches who were my friends and foes as well as companions on these wonderful trips into ‘Never-never land, second star to the right and on to day break’ – there are many tales to tell and I’m sure they shall surface in another post on another day!

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    1. Ah! The wrong kind of snow! that made me laugh. The times I’ve been stranded at London Bridge station trying to get a train back home when 3 flakes have fallen…I don’t miss that a bit! Thanks for your kind comment and the follow and I’m very happy that you liked the drawing 🙂

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  2. Oh Lottie, the nostalgia brings tears to my eyes. The older one becomes the more memories begin emerging from the recesses of our mind. Your grandmother must have been a treasure for you while growing up in the country. I did not know my grandmother very well- she died when I was about 6 or 7 years old. From what I know of her she was comical, very giving and, a mid-wife.

    I hope you have the best birthday ever and if not then one that allows you to laugh and to have some fun with the Irishman as you celebrate another milestone in your
    life.

    The illustrations are wonderful. You are indeed muti- talented.

    I’m sending my best and most positive thoughts your way. And much love to a lovely blogging friend.

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  3. Nice memory.
    There’s something funny about being in London with about 2cms of snow and people are panic buying food and fretting about trains. Like a bit of snow is the biggest catastrophe ever.
    Glad you’re ok. I have friends in jakarta still and they’ve been posting amazing flood pictures on FB.

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    1. Hello Sarah, yes there were some great photos taken of the floods. The centre of Jakarta was like a great swirling brown river. Not fun for all those whose houses were flooded though. London is hopeless when there is snow and but there has definitely been panic buying here – the shelves were half-empty when I went shopping a couple of days ago.

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  4. What a lovely memory, Lottie and beautifully told. Reading this somehow made me feel as though I were sitting in front of a nice cozy fire, soft, fuzzy blanket wrapped around me, and sipping a big mug of tea (with a good-sized shot in it). And I absolutely love your Suffolk Sheep Winter painting. Your memory is vivid, so vivid I’m able to see it, too. Wonderful. xoxo

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    1. I’m liking the sound of the big mug of tea with a good-sized shot in it! and I’m happy that you liked the sheep picture. It’s strange how some memories fade whether good or bad and others remain crystal clear no matter how many years have passed. xoxo

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  5. You make me wish I could pull my memories out and pour them onto paper as lovingly as you have done here, but alas, I fear the paper would shriek in terror and flee. Either from my goofy memories or my crappy renderings of them, I am unsure. I would definitely bet on the fleeing, though. You are so talented, my gorgeous friend.

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    1. One word to you Miss Andi-Roo, BOLLOCKS! got it? BOLLOCKS! (ok that’s 2 words but the same word so doesn’t count) You write very well and I’m sure that you would do a wonderful and very witty job of telling stories from your past. It does help of course if we have happy memories to tell – mine aren’t all rosy-tinted I can assure you, but this was one of those magical, childhood afternoons that remains as fresh in my head now as it was ‘in the bleak mid-winter, long, long ago’ xoxo

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  6. Lottie you write so beautiflly, I love your blog and how you paint “word pictures” so vividly. I keep forgetting to put a link to you on my blog but I will definitely do it then I’ll remember to read you regularly, if I put them on my favourites I forget about them.
    Hugs from Me.

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  7. I remember a winter, it was 65/66 and in Finland with -C35 and walked two kilometres from the village to the farm where I was staying. I looked like something out of Dr Zhivago. Of course I had Helvi walking next to me.

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