It started on Sunday evening: the heavy autumn rain which had kept us inside all day gradually turned white. At a friend’s house in Ramsberg, we looked down on the valley and watched as the snow line came lower and lower, closer and closer. The children’s excitement grew to fever-pitch, and, a thrill of anticipation ran through the adults as dreams of powder days and winter fun finally became a reality. And, as we left to drive home, we felt it: the first soft snowflakes on our faces and the icy chill of winter in the air.
On Sunday night the snow fell thick and fast. Beneath the street lights, large, fluffy flakes sparkled in the air as they drifted and settled on the pavements, fences and walls. The sound of traffic was muffled as the snow crunched and melted beneath the tyres.
The next morning, we awoke to a winter wonderland. A thick blanket of perfect, white snow covered the village and mountains, and the snow continued to fall! Normally, in the rush of the morning, we drive to Kindergarten, but today my daughter begged me to walk. There was no question that she could wait until lunchtime to go and play in the snow. So, dressed in snow pants, jackets, hat, scarves, gloves and snow boots we headed out.
The special quiet of snowy Mayrhofen in the early morning, was pierced by my daughter’s excited squeals. Running in the untouched snow of the field behind our house, we met the children from next door and, together, they had soon built the first snowman of the winter. Face flushed, eyes sparkling with excitement and with gloves covered in ice crystals, I herded her in the direction of Kindergarten. It was a slow walk! Every wall of snow had to be touched, every snowy branch shaken, every snow drift kicked and many, many snowballs thrown.
After a warming lunch, we headed back out into the snow. This time with toboggans in tow! It’s a short walk from our house to the bottom of the Ahorn ski lift. Unfortunately, there’s still a fortnight until the ski slopes open for the season, and the teasing sight of the Ahorn piste under beautiful powder snow was almost too much to bear! For today, however, the hills at the base of the mountain were enough – perfect for children’s tobogganing and bum boarding. For two hours we dragged the toboggans uphill and rocketed down again, racing, giggling and rolling in the snow. That’s another magical effect of snow: it brings out the child in all of us.
As it grew dark, we headed back to the warmth of home, simultaneously tired but reenergised. Snuggling on the sofa, sipping a well-deserved hot chocolate, I gazed through the window at the Penken, already dreaming of my first ski day this year. Winter has well and truly arrived and the countdown has started…