Saturday 21 December 2013

Two Days of Winter

Strathspey, 12.30 p.m., December 20th.

Midnight. The wind is roaring in the trees. The shortest day of the year is beginning. I've just been outside for a very brief walk. The night is black. Cold rain lashes down. And the snow is gone. The thick, heavy snow that fell only two days ago and turned the world white. Gone. Melted in just a few hours by the wind and the rain. The temperature at midday was -0.3ºC. At midnight it's +5ºC.

In the afternoon I'd walked down through the woods to collect a delivery from a van that couldn't make it up the snowy track. I took a sledge and hauled the boxes back up to the house. The snow was deep. It was hard to imagine it could vanish so quickly.

The snow had come the day before, blown in on a Northwest gale that created near blizzard conditions. The snow was sticky and wet, plastering everything. The ground was sodden, not frozen. That's why the snow went so quickly, just a small rise in temperature enough to turn it back into water. It didn't bond to the ground and the high water content meant it thawed fast.

So now its back to grey and wet and wind, waiting for the next snow to bring winter back.

1 comment:

  1. It is indeed one of the strangest things about a Scottish winter. You can never be sure how long the snow is going to last! I suppose it's better to have it this way rather than those long American winters where you're stuck with snow and ice for months on end. And folks were moaning no end back in the long winters we had a couple of years ago. There's one thing that stuck to my mind, and it was reading the story of the 1971 Cairngorm tragedy up at Corran bothy. When it happened, the bothy was covered in snow, only the flue was visible I think. A few days later, when they had the funeral, they said you could see the top of the Cairngorms from the churchyard and all the snow had gone, the tops where the children had died was bare of snaw. Quite some thought. I suppose it won't be too long before the next lot of snow arrives back, eh?