The Siege by Helen Dunmore
Chapter 17 Summary
The chapter begins with Anna sharing how she feels about winter and the snow. Anna has always loved the first snowfall of winter. She knows as soon as dawn comes that it’ll be today. The sky remains dark, with a yellow tinge to the clouds. The light has a sharp, raw edge. Everything is waiting, silent and expectant. Snow will come. She thinks the snow will wipe away all mistakes. Light will stream upwards from the immaculate white of the ground. When the first snow falls, Anna always goes to the Summer Garden. There, the noise of the city is muffled, and the park is eerily luminous. Small, nakedlooking sparrows hop from twig to twig, dislodging a powder of snow. The trees are lit up like candelabra by the whiteness they hold in their arms. Underfoot, she hears for the first time the squeak of snow packing into the treads of her boots. She bends down, scoops up a handful of the new snow, throws it up into the air and watches it scatter into powdery fragments as it falls for the second time. And although she’s cold and she ought to get home, she always stays much longer than she means to, because she knows that this feeling won’t come again for another year. The snow will continue to fall, thaw, freeze, turn grey with use, be covered again and again by fresh blizzards. But nothing again will have the freshness, exhilaration and loneliness of the first snowfall. She’s the one thing still warm and alive in a world which is going to sleep. She looks up, into the snow which spirals down the steep funnels of the sky, whirls into her face, lands on her eyelashes and melts into tears. And then she goes back to the apartment, along streets where trams are already thrashing the new, soft snow into slush. Children skid around streetcorners, yelling, their faces blazing crimson. Soon it’ll be time for skis and sledges. And tomorrow, when she wakes, the snow will be thick and crusted with ice. The sun will be out, and all the...
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