Jasmine knew it had snowed even before she had got out of bed. Hidden under her quilt, she could hear the magical silence outside that comes with a heavy snow fall. She was too warm and snuggly to get out of bed and so she stayed under the covers, waiting for Mum to come in and tell her to get ready for school. When she heard the telephone ring downstairs, she knew it would be her cousin Lucy. Mum came in and handed her the phone.
‘Hiya Lucy. Don’t tell me – its snowing.’
‘Yeah and guess what else. Its amazing. You’ll never guess.’ replied Lucy excitedly.
Jasmine couldn’t think of anything else. She was still half asleep. And Lucy’s voice was so loud it was hurting her ears.
‘I give in. What else?’
‘Well, you know that massive tree outside Mrs Clancy’s house.
It crashed down during the night. It must have been the weight of the snow or something.’ Lucy was now speaking at the rate of a million words per minute, but Jasmine was unable to share her excitement.
‘Yeah. So what’s so amazing about that?’
‘Its blocked the main road.’
‘So – the road has been blocked, the teachers can’t get through and so, SCHOOL HAS BEEN CANCELLED!’ Lucy yelled triumphantly.
At last Jasmine had some news that was worth getting out of bed for. ‘A day off school! That IS amazing. Let me get dressed and I’ll meet you outside Mrs Clancy’s in twenty minutes. I want to thank this tree personally!’
It felt brilliant pulling on jeans and a jumper, instead of her dull school uniform. Jasmine pulled on her furry boots before wrapping herself up in her coat, gloves and a scarf. Outside it was a cold clear day, with blue skies and bright sunshine, and the snow was for the most part clean and untouched. As she walked to meet Lucy, Jasmine wondered whether they should go sledging, or open the cafe instead.
Unfortunately the scene at Mrs Clancy’s was not quite so perfect. The huge oak tree had come down, completely blocking the road and smashing Mrs Clancy’s wall. A police car was parked at the far side of the tree, turning back the huge queue of traffic. Mrs Clancy herself was stood outside her house, clearly upset and apologising to whoever would listen for what had happened.
‘It’s not your fault, Mrs Clancy,’ said Lucy kindly. ‘The tree belongs to the Council. Its not even on your property.’
‘I just feel I could have done something.’ Mrs Clancy wrung her hands anxiously. ‘I see that tree from my window every day. If my Arthur were alive, I’m sure he would have spotted that something was wrong. It’s a miracle no one was hurt. The sound it made when it came down, I thought it was an earthquake. First this loud cracking and then a huge crash.’
Mrs Clancy’s hands started to shake and it seemed as though she was about to start to cry.
‘Lets go inside,’ said Jasmine, taking Mrs Clancy by the arm, ‘me and Lucy will make you a nice cup of tea.’
The girls had never been inside Mrs Clancy’s house before, although they had seen her many times around the village and at the shops. The hall and living room were small and dark. But, at the back of the house, the kitchen was large and warm, with an old fashioned stove and a large wooden table. Hanging from the walls were large pots and pans, and there was a shelf filled with dusty old cookbooks.
While Lucy filled a kettle with water, Jasmine asked Mrs Clancy about the cookbooks.
‘I used to be a cook in a large house,’ she explained ‘before I met Mr Clancy. The family were very well to do, and I used to live in the attic room, and cooked all their meals for them. I had to give it up when we were married, but then I had him and my sons to feed. I used to love cooking but I don’t bother much nowdays.’
Jasmine and Lucy began to tell Mrs Clancy about their cafe and their delicious hot chocolate and shortbread.
‘I haven’t made shortbread for years,’ sighed Mrs Clancy. ‘But I used to make it every day for my boys when they came home from school. I’m glad you girls are still doing the old fashioned recipes.’
It wasn’t long before Mrs Clancy had calmed down and felt up to going outside again. The traffic jam had gone, and the tree was surrounded by neighbours, wrapped up warm against the snow which had started to come down again. They were all working together, using axes and chainsaws to cut up the enormous tree and clear the road.
‘Aren’t they marvellous,’ said Mrs Clancy. ‘Do you know, you two girls have given me an idea. Come with me into the kitchen. You’re going to help me make some soup.’
Lucy and Jasmine were set to work at Mrs Clancy’s wooden table, helping to chop onions, garlic, leeks and potatoes. Mrs Clancy made soda bread and before long, the kitchen was filled with the glorious smells of cooking bread and delicious soup.
The three of them carried trays filled with cups of the steaming soup and warm bread outside. They were greeted by a loud cheer and Lucy and Jasmine felt very proud, when people started to say how delicious the food was.
By the time they had helped Mrs Clancy clear up and wash the dishes, it was nearly dark.
‘Do you know,’ said Mrs Clancy, putting the last of the pans away. ‘Being busy in the kitchen with you two girls took me back to when I used to be a cook in that fancy house in the city. I’ve really enjoyed it.’
‘So have we,’ replied Jasmine and Lucy nodded her head in agreement.
‘You’ve made a terrible day into something special. Now let me say thank you to you.’ Mrs Clancy reached up to the dusty shelf full of cooking books. ‘ This is the first recipe book I ever owned, and it taught me to cook. Now you two can have it. Keep it safe and make sure you come and see me to let me know how you get on.’
That night, the girls showed the book to Jasmine’s mum.
‘You girls are getting a reputation for being good cooks. I wonder what your next adventure is going to be.’
Lucy and Jasmine looked at each other and grinned. They were wondering exactly the same thing!