Sunshine days with cold wind. Frosty mornings and clear sunsets. In the shelter of the hedge, a white blanket lies. Snow crisp from a fortnight’s freeze crunches underfoot. Spring waits in the wings while winter takes its final bow.
The battlements surround us as we drive along the lanes. White walls taller than the car. The roadway seemingly chiselled out as though from rock. Winter has the hills in a firm grip. Yet by the coast, the snow is very gradually dissolving, snowmen disappearing to some foreign land. The snow-castle still sits proudly guarding the front path, but the turrets are crumbling under spring’s return. The battle is not yet won – snow continues to fall in odd flurries, occasionally settling for a short time. The sun seems to be winning today’s fight.
Thursday’s snow flurries turned into Friday’s blizzard. We woke to a white world, snow plastered against the window. A strange quiet. No electricity. No heating. No lights. Small camping stove out. Log fire stoked up. All day the snow continued to fall, hurling itself bad-temperedly at the ground. Tossed about by the wind, clawing at hair and face. A quick dash outside to post a letter became a struggle into the teeth of a blizzard. The path to the door and the pavement is shoveled three times. A losing battle. Inside the fire blazes, the only warmth in the house. Ice dripping from coat and hat. The kettle sings merrily on the hearth. Night draws in early. With candles lit and flames flickering the evening passes quickly. And so to bed, dressed for outside… hat and warm socks. Jumper and leggings. Duvet and three blankets. Hot water bottles top and bottom.
During the dark hours the snow still falls. A gentler dance, but just as popular. The morning light sees 10 foot drifts piled along the roads. The local farmers attach buckets to the tractors and plow the roads in the village. In the heart of the community we are safe. Cocooned from the outside world, an insulating layer of snow keeping us separate. Still no heat or light. The local rescue vehicle pops by, checking up on all. We clear the paths yet again, neighbours working together. Lunch has been cooking since dawn, balanced on the edge of the coal fire. Afterwards we emerge and playtime begins. A new member of the village appears, sitting on the bench. Soon the clouds draw in again, pregnant. Snow flurries occupy the afternoon, as the sun slowly moves across the sky. Darkness arrives and the candles are lit again. With my flickering light I climb the stairs and bury under the duvet.
Palm Sunday begins in sunshine, bringing longed for warmth into the room. A beautiful day. I go for a walk along the shore, sinking up to my knees in snow. Raid the garden for palm leaves, buried in a drift, and make palm crosses. No hope of church today – the road is still blocked to the east. By midday, the road north is finally opened. Electricity vans are seen, raising hopes. But lunch is stew slow-cooked by the open fire, and tea is toast and jam. The kettle still sings on the hearth at bedtime, and candles flicker on.
Dawn today brought relief. Blessed warmth. Sinking through to my bones. The power flicks on and off before staying on. The main wires to the village are still down, but a lorry late last night brought generators. A day of restocking. The thaw has begun, for now.
Frosted grass at dawn in pale light. Mysterious flurries of snow, white flakes against a bright blue sky. Darkening day – mercury clouds drifting across above. Silver sunset reflected on glowing sands and silken water. A small boat floats at anchor, riding lights like jewels in the twilight. Darkness wraps around, cloak of stars sparkling in deep blue heavens. Slumber awaits.
NB: a safe return to base from my travels… I’ll catch up on all the blogs shortly…. it’s good to be back!
The stream has overflowed on to the road. Frozen water coats the surface. Gingerly I cross, digging each step into the iron hard ground. Heavy clouds hover over the valley, silver light reflecting from the estuary. The first flakes of snow spiral down, dancing around me as I walk. Despite hat and gloves, the wind nips at my nose, and toes and fingers start to freeze. I turn for home, hoping to arrive before the storm begins in earnest.
The town is cradled in the valley, nestling between hills and sea. On the edge of the community, the mountains seem so close you can reach out and hold them in your hand. A glance out the window, and there they are. Waiting patiently. Snowy peak peeking out shyly from behind green foot-hills. There is space to breathe here. Iced air fills my lungs. For now, I am content to sit and stare, to be in the moment.
Night dark gives way to morning bright. The hills are still tucked up under their white duvet, dawn-pink sky rising behind them. My footsteps crunch on the iced snow, biting deep into the topmost layer. Down on the shore, the rocks are dusted with icing. And there, tucked in-between, lie shells, rimed with the frost.
Driving out into the darkness. The road is carpeted with a fresh blanket of snow. Falling as we travel. Drifts start to form at the side of the road. The white surrounds us, wind-blown towards the car. In the headlights, the snow spins giddyingly round. Bright stars against black night. New unexplored galaxies form as we watch. We creep onwards down the lane, towards the distant lights of the Port. Along the sea-front, the flakes blurring the street-lamps. The orange glow reflects from the surface. The car engine is stilled. Silence falls with the snow.