Sunday 14 February 2010

A Slow, Slow Thaw

For a week now the snow has slowly receded, the land returning to the grey-green of winter meadows and forests. Usually this looks dull and faded but after weeks of monochrome even the most subdued colour seems unnaturally bright. With night temperatures just below freezing and daytime ones only struggling up to 5 and 6ÂșC the thaw is very gradual and there are still large expanses of snow, some quite deep, that make walking awkward and slow. At lower levels the snow is too broken for snowshoes or skis however so today I stumbled through the snowfields, my route an erratic zigzag as I linked patches of open ground. Drizzle trickled down out of the overcast sky and just occasionally a burst of sunlight lit up a corner of a field or a patch of forest from a strip of blue sky. There was no wind and little sound. A few chaffinches called from high in the trees, a pheasant crashed away squawking but otherwise nature was silent. A buzzard drifted slowly overhead, scanning the ground for carrion. The distant high hills were indistinct and cloud-capped, the damp air seeming thick and hazy, softening the edges of the world. There was no clarity to the views or crispness in the air. For once it could be described as mild. Damaged trees were everywhere, snapped branches hanging downwards, broken by the weight of heavy wet slabs of snow. Some are still bent double, their tops held down by the last snow.

Heavy snow is forecast for two days time. The winter has a long way to go.

Photo info. Birch tree damaged by the snow, February 14, 2010. Sigma DP1, 1/50@f8, ISO 50.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chris,

    Yes, for the second time in one year, February 2009 and January 2010, the heavy snowfall has taken its toll on the trees; in particular deciduous trees of various species and Scots pines. Many of the mature birches and rowans in our garden have had their limbs broken and torn off.

    The forecast was right: we had 8” of new snow on Tuesday (Feb 16th), low temperatures (-9˚C) yesterday and it is snowing again this morning (19th Feb). Being further from the coast I expect it was colder for you yesterday!

    Two of my friends have ski toured twice this week in Ladder Hills as a change from local hills and the Cairngorms. As you know, one enjoys stunning views from the Ladder Hills. They changed their route on the fly to avoid disturbing all the red deer in the glens seeking fodder as their usual domain has been under many feet of snow for more than two months and are really suffering now.

    As you said, winter up here has a long way to go yet!

    The good thing is that we should have snow covered hills well into Spring.

    Rob fae Craigellachie