If you live here you have to like snow, and when the sun’s out there’s nothing we like better than to enjoy a snow chute. I had great fun with this today, since the sun was shining and the snow in the garden looked so inviting.
You’ve probably heard of a water chute – well a snow chute is something you can make yourself in the garden (or what passes as a ‘garden’ when it is under a metre of snow) and snow falls down it. We buy a chute-maker from the local hardware shop, which is made of light steel. Making the chute is a lot of the pleasure, as it involves travelling behind the steel chute-maker on the slippery path it creates as you push it down your garden. Instead of falling into deep snow as you trudge your way down, the chute-maker makes the snow part before you like a wave. The action of leaning the body into the chute-maker is one of giving yourself to the snow, as the snow acts as a gentle buffer but also gives way to pressure in a way that feels entirely natural – rather like riding a steam train.
In spring winter, snow crystals sparkle and change shape and form in the warmth of the sun, and they cling together and make icebergs. Once your chute is made (a long path through the snow) you take the other tool – let’s call it a ‘snow explorer’ – and gently edge it under the icebergs either side of the chute. As you lift them you can see the form of the snow – the tiny footprints from birds, the path of the arctic hare – and then as the snow falls it’s like watching an iceberg fall into the sea. It’s a small scale activity which – like the desert feeling of snow drifting on open ice – mimics nature at its grandest. The snow falls and is pushed down the path, a white torrent of sparkling snowflakes. You are surrounded by cascading piles of snow, the sun shines in your face, and you are moving with nature as the snow flows ahead of you down the chute.
After a while you lean on your tools and enjoy a cup of coffee, listening to the sparrows and great tits in the trees. It is a hugely satisfying activity. Not many visitors experience it and I was wondering if I might offer them the chance, since it’s right on our doorstep. I think 800 SEK for two hours would be a reasonable price to charge, and we can offer a picnic lunch with chairs out on the snow afterwards. This would appeal in particular to families from England, since children there aren’t allowed to play in snow anymore, due to health and safety regulations.
On the other hand, we could just call this activity ‘shovelling snow’, but I don’t think we would get any takers, even if it was free. Funny that.