Thursday 20 December 2012

After the Snow, Before the Storm


The wind is starting to roar, rain is beginning to fall. A quiet period in the weather is coming to an end. Heavy rain and high winds are forecast for the next few days. Since the snow came two weeks ago there has been a slow thaw, daytime temperatures a few degrees above freezing, night time just a touch below. Mists have drifted through the glens, sometimes rising to envelop the hillsides and leave the world mysterious and insubstantial. 

Out in the woods and fields nature is mostly quiet. A pheasant shrieks and crashes through bushes. High above a circling buzzard mews. A flock of chaffinches flutters overhead. Startled, a grazing deer pauses, looks up, then slips silently into the trees. The land is muted. Underfoot the still frozen ground crunches. Ice remains on puddles. But over the days the snow and frost retreats to shaded hollows, boulders, logs and walls. The grass is still green and out in the meadows under a blue sky it could be another season. But the thin, weak sun has no warmth and the air is chill in the shade and every touch of breeze is cold. On the distant hills the snow slowly fades though the tops remain white-capped.

The storm will change all this, the rain sweeping away the last of the ice and thawing the ground, turning the crisp brown frosted soil back to mud. Higher up there will be snow, replacing that which has gone. Maybe some will drift down here. Maybe.

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