Winter - the joyous ritual of car scraping
I'm not actually joking, or being sarcastic with the title of this blog. I do really, genuinely love scraping the car on frosty mornings. The first frosty morning of the season is a happy morning for me, and I can't help but grin from ear to ear - partly because my face has frozen into that position, but partly because I'm so particularly thrilled to be alive on such days. It has a little to do with feelings of festiveness. But it's not only that.
My mornings are so busy, with three children to feed and wash and dress and make lunch for, that I usually don't have chance to look out of the window to see what the weather's doing. So often the first glimpse of frost I get is when I open the front door and turf all of my young outside. There will be a little 'oh' of dismay from me initially, because we are usually leaving the house at exactly the right time to be at school just before the bell. The frost means that I have to get a move on and rush. I do not like to rush - which is strange, because I spend such a lot of my time doing just that in the end. You'd think I'd have learned by now, and would get up just fifteen minutes earlier to prevent any need for rushing at all. Well.
After the initial dismayed 'oh', I am quickly transferred into a state of childlike excitement (it's never a long journey to that state of being, since I'm always on the verge of childlike excitement anyway), and after piling the boys into the car and strapping them in, turning the engine on and switching on the front and back window heaters (yes, I am lucky, my car has good ones - although, if I'm not in a rush I don't bother to use them), I close all of the doors and begin the scraping.
Oh, first of all, I have retrieved the disused store rewards card from the glove compartment. Now, I want to tell you about the credit card shaped instrument as a scraping tool. Credit cards can be very dangerous things, they can ruin lives, they can destroy families, they can be a factor in the causes of depression, anxiety, and stress-related illnesses. But on frosty mornings they can also be your friend. And you can do yourself a favour by using the credit card to scrape the car, because the chances are that once you've used it in this new and exciting way, it won't work in a card reader any more. I don't have a disused credit card, because I've never had one of my own, so I use an old reward card. Any credit card shaped piece of rigid plastic will do, I am using the words 'credit card' as a generic term for all plastic cards of the same shape. I could encourage the use of the actual Car Scraper tool, which is available in various shapes, colours and sizes from all good garages, car accessory outlets, and supermarkets. That would indeed be good for local business and the general economy. But they just don't work as well as the good old credit card. The edge of a Car Scraper is just too flexible and too blunt. The edge of a credit card is, as I said, rigid, and more importantly it is sharp. A sharp edge cuts through the ice much more efficiently, without ever scratching the glass.
So, I have my credit card shaped piece of plastic in my bare hands. Do feel free to wear thick gloves. I do in the deepest weeks of Winter, but in this first cold snap of November I don't feel the need. I like to feel the frost as it dusts my fingers - and dust them it will if you are using such a small scraper. If you use a Car Scraper you are likely to save your fingers from being covered in frost dust, but where's the fun in that? The point of the exercise is not really to improve visibility whilst driving, it is to become at one with nature and the elements, surely?
With bare hands and credit card, I begin to scrape the frost from my car windows. My children are quiet in the car, shivering a little, but full of anticipation. I begin at James's window, and as I remove the ice from the first half of the glass I notice a little nose pointed in my direction. Below the nose is a huge grin, and above the nose is a pair of delighted eyes. I smile back at my most middle son, and his shoulders shake as he laughs with excitement. Do you see why I enjoy scraping the car now? Scraping mornings are just filled with laughter. James and I pull faces at each other for a few moments until the window is clear. I clear the driver's side rear window next (our car has three big windows on each side), and then move around to the passenger's side rear window - this is Thomas's window. Thomas is the eldest brother, but still the silliest. He is already in hysterics, part terror and part joy, he still finds it completely thrilling that I might shout 'boo!' through the window when he's only half expecting it. Just one glance at Thomas's gigantic smile and wide eyes makes me laugh. This morning he is shouting at me, 'CAN YOU HEAR ME?' I can't hear him, but I can read his lips, so I shake my head. Immediately he starts to scream, a sonic boom level of scream. The others join in, and the car is filled with little screaming boys, trying to out-scream each other. It is very funny. The noise is nicely contained and I can only just hear it, so I don't mind that they are letting off some steam in this way. Shouting feels good sometimes, doesn't it?
I move up to Matthew's window and he is so busy screaming that he doesn't immediately notice that his window is being cleared of frost. When he looks out and sees me scraping he stops screaming and grins his most precious and sincere smile, filled with pure unfiltered happiness.
One more window and I have finished. If we're not late for school I scrape the big windscreen as well, because I love to do it. It always has the thickest ice, and always creates the biggest spray of frost dust. It's not only seeing my children's faces appear in the windows that makes me love scraping the car, it's the cold and the frost itself also. There can be no denying the prettiness of frost, ghostly white, and sparkling with the sun's reflection. I love the way it makes me feel alive, and aware of my whole body at once. I can't feel my fingers, and my hands are bright lobster pink when I've finished, but the feeling of them warming through again when I get in the car is like nothing else. The feeling of relief can only be felt if you have something to be relieved from, like the feeling a long distance runner experiences when she allows herself to stop running - it's worth all the pain. Okay, I wouldn't really equate cold hands being warmed with the achievement of finishing a ten mile event, and the relief isn't as great, but it was the best analogy I could think of.
I wouldn't say that I like being cold per se, but being cold on a frosty morning, when I know that I will be warm again soon, is invigorating. I never feel more inspired to write than on a frosty morning (ask me about that in summer - I'll probably say that sunshine inspires me to write more than anything else.)
I have a neighbour who walks past every morning, to exercise his dogs and to go to the shop to buy his paper and milk, and on frosty days he says 'ooh, it's a bloody pain, scraping the car, eh?' He always looks at me like I'm a crazy person when I reply 'nooooo, I love scraping the car, love frosty mornings.'
We all love the things we love, and there's never much we can do about it. I don't really know why I love frosty mornings, I just do. What do you love?