The eternal winter of 2005 in Germany has done it again. Just as we were delighting in melting icicles, slush and mud in the forest instead of pure sheet ice, this morning we awoke to windows clogged with the white stuff and the merry sound of a neighbour scratching the footpath with his shovel to clear the snow. In these cases I love to spring out of bed, shower and get in there with the best of them, shovelling. But N, 11 yr old daughter, was up even though her forend D was staying overnight and is a late sleeper unlike N & I. But N had slipped out quiet as a muse and was preparing to go to the baker. She let in the cat so I had to scamper around to stop the meows waking D by diverting her into the main bedroom. With another hand I was juggling C, 8 yr old youngest daughter, who was complaining of sore throat and sneezing, causing me to search for Tempos (the Kleenex of Germany). Meanwhile N had started on the shovelling with the rush, a good idea as it's quieter, and so won't waken D. But the snow is of that lethargic mix of slush, ice and snow that is hard to shift by brush, shovel, hook or crook. So after I while I had to step in there to lend my muscle. Then she was off to the baker and I was getting the coffee ready, and also making hot milk and honey for C. Phew... I was glad when D finally woke up ( a la cat, I think) and joined us for a leisurely breakfast. Such are the delights of domestic bliss in this icy wonderland. Now I empathise with those Russians in that northmost outpost whose population shrank from 20000 to 8000 since 1990 - doc the other day showing the grey existence - but the human spirit is remarkable - they are of good cheer, sort of, though the memory of southern climes is dim and distant.