Jennifer L

Senior Writer | Littleborough

Jennifer is an author and environmental writer with a background in nature conservation. Throughout her varied career in magazine publishing, she has written for Vogue, The Week, Dazed, BBC, Wildlife Trusts, and RSPB to encourage people to get outdoors and explore nature in order to de-stress their lives. Her book The Wheel, on her year exploring Pagan practices and reconnecting with nature, will be published by September Publishing in October 2021. In June 2018, she won a Northern Writers’ Award for her children’s fiction, which looks at destigmatising mental health issues for a younger audience.
As a Story Terrace writer, Jennifer interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below

The forever-playground

The thing is, if anybody asked me ‘What was the best day of your life?’ I would still say that day – twenty-seven years ago.

I was four years old, stuffed in my pink puffer jacket so I could barely move my arms. I struggled to put my wellies on in the hall, jittery and ready to go – today was an exciting day after all. As Grandma opened the backdoor, I stood as still as a nativity angel framed in the doorway.

The garden gleamed white back at me.

We’d all been sent home at the school gates and my grandparents lived just up the road so took me in; I felt like a Snow Day orphan being whisked off on an adventure. My cousins and I were incredibly lucky to have Grandma and Grandad’s garden as our forever-playground. It had once been their dairy, filled with the commotion of milk floats turning, chickens squabbling at the door and the milkmen shooting banter back and forth over the pig troughs. Now it was a serene, sprawling lawn, white as the sky above, and today there was only me to play in it.

I took my first step into the whiteness and watched the toes of my red welly disappear with a crunch.

In the summer, this place was a world of greens, pinks and yellows; the snapdragons fighting with the fuchsias to see who the bees would love the best. As I walked with crunchy precision over the lawn, I marvelled at how everything I knew was hidden deep under the snow. I wondered how long it would be until I saw green again.

After a few laps of running around the garden, laughing and trying to catch snow on my tongue, I wondered what I should do next. My cheeks felt pink and there were tiny snowflakes crystalising on my eyelashes. What did people do with snow exactly?

I’d seen snowmen on the cheery Christmas TV ads and in the picture books I read before bed. As I looked at the snowy ground around me, I paused. How did one make a snowman? Did they appear out of thin air from the North Pole?

Grandad would know. I explained my plight to him and he quickly got to work shovelling snow into a pile that towered over me. He showed me how to roll snow, squatting close to the ground and pushing the ball of white powder until it grew and grew to be the size of a prize pumpkin.

We stepped back and admired ‘our’ creation. But it looked a bit… bare.

“I know just the thing,” he said.

Grandad went into the garage, eyes twinkling, and came back with a tin of buttons, a carrot and his favourite tweed cap. With the hat in place and the buttons squished into its round head, the snowman would be my new Snow Day friend, keeping watch as I rolled down the hill, threw snowballs at the trees and ate a fairy cake at the window where I could see him glowing in the strange and snowy light.

Of course, there have been many excellent days since – getting married is quite high up the list – but there is something so inescapably beautiful about the wonder of first snow.

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