The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

The snow dog

Snow dog and above snow man resting on a bench

Snow dog and above snow man resting on a bench

Do you remember that I mentioned that I was selling my vast lead toy collection? We suddenly needed to raise money fast on a monthly basis to repay an outstanding debt. And we did it, working together, we paid off that debt over the five month designated period.

I can’t tell you the relief when I finally paid the last instalment in early December. We were free!

I am continuing to sell my collection – it is very large – but I’m buying as well. Adding to my core collection and selling on the other pieces. I’ve discovered that I enjoy buying and selling. Pushed to raise cash, I’d stumbled across a way to earn a bit of money from home.

I love lead toys – the superb modelling and delicacy of the items. The actual process of handling them is incredibly calming. Sometimes I like to believe that I sense their history too.

During these past weeks, since D left, the buying and selling has been a godsend. It’s a total distraction and a good focus for my day.

Most afternoons I walk up to the post office and general stores in the village to post a few parcels to the buyers. I’ve always particularly enjoyed this walk at dusk when lights are on in the houses that I pass.  I like to imagine the lives that are played out in those houses.

We’ve recently had a cold and snowy patch in the weather. I love snow. The glimmer at night from the small drifts when I let the Min Pins out last thing at night. The creak of snow beneath my soles when I venture out to feed the chickens and examine my garden.

Recently, before the thaw I set out at 4 – worried that the pavements might get icy. As I approached the little green some 300 yards from the cottage I spotted this snowman sitting on the park bench and at his feet something very different.

It was a snow dog. I’d never seen one before.

In fact, the snow dog was so beautifully modelled that I initially reckoned that it was a much loved soft toy, donated by generous children to the snowman. I found it hard to believe that it had been allowed to stay there, not tossed aside by someone not quite so pleasant.

When I stood in front of the snow dog I twigged that it was made from snow and my heart turned over. It was a work of art. Floppy ears made from elongated leaves. Real coal for his nose and eyes. Even a tail.

I rushed back to the cottage to grab my camera.

When everything started to thaw a few days ago, I passed the dog again. The ears had slipped off. The snowman’s mouth had been twisted askew. His yew tree hair had slipped off and vanished and his eyes had dropped to the ground. His carrot nose was lying on the pavement.

I hurried past.

But the next day I was so relieved to see that the snowman’s mouth was smiling once again. The coals were back in his eyes. He had a little yew tree hair.

And the dog had ears – moulded out of snow – right on the top of his head. It was just like a bow. Hopeful. Expectant.

I smiled all the way to the post office.

I’ve since discovered that local children had repaired the snow dog and snowman! What a great promise for our future.


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  1. Tried to zoom out on the picture to have a better look and I can’t seem to get it to work. Lovely tale.

  2. Heartwarming.

  3. So glad you are back blogging, you seem to be more upbeat, wishing you well Fiona. Best wishes.

  4. Glad to hear the smile is back – no snow in Adelaide – C U when back in Cambs. Love Miles

    • Fiona Nevile

      Oh! A great big hug to you both. And an equally big one to your significant daughter and equally crowned husband 🙂

  5. I love a good snowfall (for a few days!). It helps us to remember that there is a season for everything in nature. Tiny signs of spring are happening here, and like evidence of caring, all promises for the future.

  6. Lovely to have you back blogging… have such an ability to make us see what you have experienced….I loved your snow dog. Keep the stories coming. Huge hugs, Nadine

  7. KathyinLondon

    Lovely reading, thank you. Having a purpose helps when certain days are tougher than others. Take care.

  8. What a lovely post Fiona… I think your writing mojo has returned.

    Did you see the sequel to the animated film The Snowman and the Snowdog on TV at Christmas? google it… I think you’ll like it.

  9. debi lewis

    What a delightful story Fiona. Hope all is well with you xx

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