By Sue McDermott, Ageing Well Torbay Programme Manager
By the time you are reading this, the snow we had will be a memory, Easter will be in the air, with the smell of hot cross buns and an abundance of chocolate.
But there were many wonderful things about the beast from the east that we should all appreciate.
Firstly, being snow bound really brings communities together; Whereas in everyday life it is easy to feel you can’t knock on a neighbours door to make sure they have everything they need, snow gives that opportunity and can also spark conversations and memories about other winters like the one in ‘62. Some people cleared not only their own paths and pavements but those of their more elderly neighbours too. Others opened their homes to complete strangers who were stranded, or shared hot meals with neighbours who had no cooking fuel. Those with 4×4 vehicles readily helped others (including staff) get to and from hospital.
Our roads were closed so children could safely play out in them and that was amazing for them and wonderful to see. I marvelled at them revelling in the sledging, sliding and snowballing, whereas we, middle-aged and older were walking around gingerly, and gripping each other, walls or fences, anything to avoid slipping and feeling scared of falling. It reminded me of the invulnerability of youth and the joy in risk, adventure and danger.
Snow changed the way we travelled – more of us had to go on foot instead of jumping into our cars, it meant we bumped into people and talked, and in slowing us down it meant that we could appreciate our neighbourhoods and environment more. Some of us learned how to make do with no heating or hot water, or found ingenuous ways to stay warm (it certainly brought our generations together as we alternatively stood on the extension roof trying to unfreeze our pipes).
The landscape and our familiarity with it was changed. Trees were not just covered in snow, but decorated in ice, and everywhere you looked was Christmas-card beautiful snow.
I am wondering what year it will be when we next have snow, and reminisce about the spring of ’18. The good news is that we don’t need snow, to be able offer help to each other or to bring us together, we can do it right now. You can make the effort every day to smile and talk to people where you live, and if you want to ask for or offer help, why not find out more about the time-banking in your area? You can call 01803 212638 or email email@example.com, or visit www.torbaytogether.org.uk