Forces of Nature

Nature has had the upper hand lately. Snow, and plenty of it, disrupted our daily rhythms a few times in recent weeks. Rain, and plenty of it, has swamped fields and tracks, making a walk in the country an utterly unreasonable pastime.

The other day though, cabin fever got the better of us, and we made a break for the countryside near West Witton, reasoning that some of the tracks there would be more or less passable. They were. More or less.

But Nature made its presence felt in full force. Here was almost our very first sight on our walk – a mother ewe with twin lambs so very newly born that she was still calmly licking them clean as they tottered beside her, looking for their very first feed of milk.

The weather was mild. Surely the snow would be long gone? Not up here. Bitter howling winds a week ago had snatched the snow into deep drifts at the edges of fields, or pounded it into hillside crevices.

Redmire Force lived up to its name. Look at the waters swirling, frothing and plunging over the boulders in the River Ure. Look at the tree torn from its cliff side, now hanging precariously over the river.

And as we came to the end of our walk – look! Is this a river, or is this a field, unusable by the sheep who normally graze here, but forming a stopping off point for the occasional passing water bird?

We’re not quite as in charge as we like to think.

Click on any image to view it full size.

Snapshot Saturday: Snow fun in the dark

For comparison purposes, here is the garden by day. In a moment, you and the rabbit will see it by night.

At Christmas, Tom & Sarah gave us a night camera, so we could see what went on in the garden after dark. So far no bears, wolves or lynx have revealed themselves. Sadly, no foxes, badgers or deer either, though we know they’re there: we just have to find the right spot.

This week however, with all the snow, the garden took on an other-worldly aspect. And the rabbits came out as little as possible. But here’s one who braved the cold. Please note the temperature.

Rabbit in a hurry.

And in the morning, as short periods of sunshine briefly melted the snow, we spotted, apart from rabbit prints…

…. and pheasant prints …..

….. human bootprints too.

Although I rather liked these ghostly negative image prints. I thought they looked out of this world.

Chili is the new carrot

If you’ve got snow, and a toddler in tow, you’ve got to have a snowman. If the day is cold, and the snow hard and crisp, best make it a small one.

Tom made William a mini-snowman on Sunday. How to finish him off though? Beech mast for eyes, sticks for arms, with the almost-final touch of William’s spurned mittens – so far so good.

But our dwarf snowman was far too diminutive to have a stonking great carrot for a nose. We used a chili instead.

Which lasted exactly two minutes. Poppy, the dog next door, came to remove it. Dog lovers everywhere will be relieved to read that she decided not to eat it.

Later that day, the rain came and washed everything away. By then, William and his mum and dad were back in London. Our snowman hadn’t lasted long enough to set a trend.

Supplementary Snapshot Saturday: First snow

The weekly photo challenge posed by WordPress is taking a week off.  I don’t have to.  I thought I’d add to the piles of photos clogging up the internet showing snow.  Snow in the garden, out by the lake, up a mountain, shutting down the motorways, whitening city streets ….

We woke up this morning to bitter cold.  Minus One Celsius.  This will make my American and Canadian readers laugh.  Look at this post from my blogging friend Kerry.  Where she wakes up it’s  -32, and steam is rising from the frozen lake.  She’d better not read this.  Where she is, nobody ventures out, not even – especially not even – the cats.

This is snowy weather British style.  Just a couple of inches.  Just enough to snarl up the transport system and fill the airwaves with ‘Is your journey really necessary?’ type warnings.  It’ll probably be gone tomorrow.

 

 

Click on any image to view full size.

PS.  Happy New Year!

 

 

 

Snapshot Saturday: Snowshoes, sunshine, shadows

It's easy to feel like the only person out in the landscape. But you'll have come with a friend or two, if only to haul you upright when, inevitably you fall deep into a drift of snow.
It’s easy to feel like the only person out in the landscape. But you’ll have come with a friend or two, if only to haul you upright when, inevitably you fall deep into a drift of snow.

Back in France, in the Ariège, the very best way of getting out into virgin snow and becoming at one with a pure, glittering white winter landscape was take yourself off to the nearest mountain, strap on your snowshoes and walk through the fresh crisp air as if you were the only person in that particular bit of world.  It was hard work though, and after the first hour, I’d had enough.

Three years on, and the memory of the pain, sweat and general exhaustion of the entire procedure has faded.  I remember instead the vivid sunlit skies and startlingly white and unspoilt snow.  And sometimes there were shadows: clear silhouettes mirroring, yet enhancing the world above the glistering mantle.

This week’s WordPress Photo challenge is ‘shadow’.  The challenge is now issued on a Wednesday rather than a Friday.  I think I’ll now usually respond on Saturday, not Sunday.