On a recent walk among snowy fields these sculpted snow drifts made me think of the mountains of Afghanistan, similar in shape, with their smooth and sweeping folds, though entirely different in colour and size.
Later I think of the Alps, snow-covered mountains we crept up slowly, in blizzards, chains on the tyres. We left the little village near Grenoble, the big farmhouse with its log stove and its bare trees, a few forgotten pears squelching underfoot. What was the weather forecast? Were the mountain roads passable? This was a long time ago, long before the days of the internet. We talked to people in the village, listened to the radio, asked the people we were staying with.
There were different opinions, some in favour, some not. M was not the kind of person to be put off by other people’s fears or hesitations but no-one could tell for certain how bad the snow would be in the next few days. He decided to go for it. He got hold of some chains for the tyres, I forget how. We picked up some provisions in Chamonix, snow swirling in the streets. We were lucky, the roads stayed open, the car did not get stuck in the blizzards. We reached the Mont Blanc tunnel and on the other side, we were in Italy. It was night time, we pulled off the road and slept in the back of the car. We woke in the morning to sunlight and mountains and no snow on the road at all.
Seeing the sculpted snow drifts and thinking of the Alps reminded me that I had written a story and other pieces about that time in France and in Italy and made me want to find them, so when I got home I went into the cold attic to rummage around in various boxes and folders. And I unearthed the stories and some other things too I had quite forgotten I had written. Reading these stories again gave me the feeling of reconnecting with my past.