A public footpath runs along the bottom of our garden which leads into fields. We bought our house in 2013, just three months before Sarah’s cancer diagnosis. The whole process of buying the house was slow, with us being part of a five-strong chain of house sales, each depending upon the others to be able to successfully negotiate and organise their finances etc. We would frequently walk along the footpath and into the fields (our garden is the last-but-one before reaching the gate that leads into them), looking longingly into what was hopefully soon to be ours. On one occasion it had snowed heavily. We took our wellies and made plans to go sledging down the nearby slopes should we ever to get to the stage where we were able to move in.
Fields at the bottom of the garden
It all happened on March 15th. About 10pm we crashed out on a mattress on the bedroom floor, exhausted after the move, having earlier been able to look from the inside out onto the fields where we used to walk. We’d made it. More or less exactly a week later, we had another heavy snowfall. It didn’t stay around for too long, as the warmth of spring and the longer hours of daylight melted it all in a day or two.
Sarah started her chemotherapy in September later the same year, after having a lump removed from her left breast and removal of the lymph nodes from under the left arm. She had six doses, one every three weeks over a period of four months. Each time she had a chemo-poisoning session, I would buy her a present. We called them chemo presents. One was a picture that she’d mentioned that she liked. Another was a new pair of wellies for our forthcoming winter walks through the fields. In November, I bought a joint present for us both – two sledges. Soon the snow would return. Even during the chemotherapy, you are likely to get good days – or, at least, days that aren’t so bad. “Bring it on!” we thought. We waited. It never came. All through the winter, with all the ups and downs of chemotherapy, we waited fruitlessly. In the spring of 2014, Sarah was given the all-clear. We celebrated with our Route 66 adventure, across America from Chicago to Los Angeles. Winter returned, and we waited for snow. Spring returned in 2015. Still, no snow. The following winter – again, no snow! We are now in January 2017.
During chemotherapy, waiting for the snow
Its nearly four years on from leaving the city of Newport to our country idyll a few miles outside of Abergavenny, at the foot of the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons. Nearly four years have passed since our last snowfall. I’ve never known such a long period of time without any snow. Other parts of the country have had some, but it has completely by-passed us on the lowlands of South-East Wales. Our sledges have yet to be used. They are still in our garage. Those who know us say that by buying those sledges we have jinxed the snow. Some say we should get rid of them so it’ll come back. Others beg us to keep them!
It is now Tuesday 9th January, 2017. We have snow forecast for Thursday and Friday. Yeah right! I’ve heard that before. We will be watching the weather forecast every day like a pair of children, willing the snow to fall so we can trudge across the fields to the slopes where the real children (so we’ve been told) play when it snows. We should be able to get there first. It’s a bit of a trek for people who (unlike us) have to fight their way through the overgrown footpath that runs along the bottom of our garden. We both have jobs that enable us to go home early when it snows. That suits us nicely. Bring it on!
I won’t be holding my breath though.
For information about our extraordinary story of survival (my brain haemorrhage and Sarah’s breast cancer), and to purchase my book I’M NEVER ILL (A journey through brain surgery and beyond…), please visit my website http://www.markdpritchard.com