Why is it that I can never find our sledge when we need it? It always looms into view in midsummer from the depths of the garage when I’m looking for the spare gas canister for the barbecue. Now that the countryside has been turned a sparkling, snowy white, it’s all carpe diem in terms of sledging, but I can’t find the wretched thing. Fortunately, Anna is so thrilled to have a day off school that she’s forgiven me and has come on a walk around the fields. The terriers plunge into the snowdrifts with the reckless abandon of the breed. No wonder every terrier ends up breaking its owner’s heart.

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Then it strikes us. We are surrounded by the shocking sound of silence. Nothing. The shock is the rarity, the stillness, the purity of emptiness. It’s eerie. Magical. Not a car, bird or beast can be heard-even our footsteps are cushioned into silence. Snow connects us with a different world. It creates a place of silence in the fields and a place of chatter in towns, where strangers suddenly talk to each other on trains and buses, exclaiming at the beauty of the city a blanket of white.

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