Tuesday, 11 January 2011
It was not quite Spring when the weather turned suddenly very cold. I went to bed after a bright Spring day and woke up to snow and ice.
"Someone's upset someone," my darling said, quoting her grandmother, "Or why would we have snow in Springtime?"
I went outside wearily to get a shovel and clear the snow from the paths and to my surprise I found a white cat with the most brilliant blue eyes looking at me from the wall. I love cats, but no matter how politely I spoke to this one, or offered bribes it looked disdainfully at me. I shrugged my shoulders and continued to shovel the snow to the side of the path. The frost had bitten all the flower buds and it pained me to see them dying before blooming. After a little while, I stood up and stretched my back and loosened the tension in my neck and shoulders. I had rarely worked quite so hard. When I reached down for my shovel, I saw the white cat had come a little closer and thinking it might be afraid of me, for I am tall, I crouched down and spoke to it.
This time it sighed and said dryly,
"Well you have manners of a kind at least."
I was shocked, but maintained my composure and answered that I loved cats and admired their grace and beauty. The cat harrumphed as much as a cat can and seemed to shift into the snowy whiteness. Only those ice blue eyes remained staring at me. The cat had become a small young woman about the height of my knee. Her hair was whiter than bone, her skin was white with a bluish tinge and lips seemed almost bloodless. I stood, stepped back and bowed to her. To my surprise, she chuckled. It seemed such a warm sound from so cold a being.
"Your majesty," I said softly.
"Majesty eh? Well now I don't mind that, but I'm no majesty my lad," she answered with a wry smile.
"You are not the Snow Queen from the wintry north?" I asked her.
"Snow Queen? Certainly not. I'm Jackie Snowfrost, or Jacqueline Snowfrost to you. I have a brother but he only comes out in winter. When he sleeps, it's my turn. Now then my lad, I'm hungry. What will you do about that then?" she answered me.
I asked her what she would like to eat and she grinned and said, "Ice Cream of course, the colder the better. And a glass of iced water to drink too."
I said that I would fetch it immediately and went indoors eager to tell my love about what I had seen in the garden. But she was on the phone to her dear friend Maura and I did not like to interrupt. I took a box of ice cream from the freezer and the ice tray. The ice cream was a solid block but I persevered and hacked off a large chunk into a bowl. In a glass I put cold water and then ice cubes to chill it. I took both out into the garden and set them on the garden table before Jacqueline Snowfrost. She sighed and took her meal and would not talk to me.
"It's rude to talk while eating. Rude to the food and rude to me, so hush," she told me.
I hushed and went on with clearing the paths all the way to the pavement. Then because it was there, I cleared the pavement before our house and the road too. I went back to the garden to find the bowl and the glass empty and no Jacqueline Snowfrost. I heard a soft sigh and the snow in the garden began to melt away. By evening, all the snow had melted and my love and I went up to bed in our warm house.