snow













In Virginia Woolf's Orlando we hear about a carnival of the utmost brilliancy held on the frozen Thames, which is swept and laid with arbours, mazes, alleys, drinking booths, etc for a Frost Fair. The freeze is to such an extent that the river's mortalities become visible, frozen rigid and clear in the ice, along with shoals of fish and eels. Its history is preserved in suspended animation at various levels under the surface, like sedimentation. 
We hear about the winter, in which:


Birds froze in mid-air and fell like stones to the ground. At Norwich a young countrywoman started to cross the road in her usual robust health and was seen by the onlookers to turn visibly to powder and be blown in a puff of dust over the roofs as the icy blast struck her at the street corner. The mortality among sheep and cattle was enormous. Corpses froze and could not be drawn from the sheets. It was no uncommon sight to come upon a whole herd of swine frozen immovable upon the road. The fields were full of shepherds, ploughmen, teams of horses, and little bird-scaring boys all struck stark in the act of the moment, one with his hand to his nose, another with the bottle to his lips, a third with a stone raised to throw at the ravens who sat, as if stuffed, upon the hedge within a yard of him. The severity of the frost was so extraordinary that a kind of petrifaction sometimes ensued; and it was commonly supposed that the great increase of rocks in some parts of Derbyshire was due to no eruption, for there was none, but to the solidification of unfortunate wayfarers who had been turned literally to stone where they stood. 


More recent winters in London have also seen great coldness. In the winter of 1813-14 wax and glue froze in their pots, so cobblers and tailors could not work. Silk deteriorated in the cold at Spitalfields, and there were bread riots and looting. 


Today it is the last day in November.  Today it is cloudy with outbreaks of mainly light snow over much of England and Wales, giving a covering in many places. 








Woolf, V Orlando
Ackroyd, P London: A Biography