Sunday, 31 January 2010

And again, Snow

A smattering is the idiosyncratic parlance of the Met office. A smattering of sharp, cold, ice white flakes dancing in the easterly wind ; a dusting of sparklingly bright crystals fallen from a heavy pink clouded sky; outlining the angles and convolutions of the landscape; catching the eye again –‘Look, look’.

This was a sudden smattering, and, as such, has had a dramatic effect. The radio warns of hazardous driving conditions and recommends only necessary journeys, sports events are cancelled, shoppers with empty pockets, still suffering from the Christmas excess, decide it is a day for the fireside.

God claims His Sabbath back as a day of rest.

Later in the day only a hardy few regard a walk in the frozen countryside as a ‘rest’; and are favoured witnesses to a pageant of stark beauty – browlines of skeletal trees outlined against the hard china blue sky – a pictogram of ‘Winter’.

Walking among the trees, the suffering is apparent; bark turned ashen grey, evergreen leaves tinged with red and brown - signs that the heartwood is clawing the last of the summer down into itself, the life force knowing what to sacrifice; knowing survival techniques learnt over thousands of years; to curl in on itself and wait.

The stillness demands silence; voices grate on the ear –

Life in Black and White waiting, waiting – a world on ‘pause’.

From nowhere - movement – flashing, too rapid to pin down, to register on the eye; then, the sharp, high pitched ‘chack’ of a blackbird. Still, moving, darting; sharp eyes seeing details, sharp beak picking at twigs and leaves. The ‘chack’ turns into a rising crescendo of notes, claiming territory. Then, from the same nowhere a rival appears and they throw themselves into battle. Cavaliers, they fence up and through the haphazard stairways of the branches, wings flapping like ermine cloaks. Each determined to be king of this castle. A silent call and they both fly off as if to some previous engagement.

But it is enough; a spell is broken - the monochrome reveals itself as a backdrop to the pioneer accents of Spring. Golden catkins have quietly unfurled themselves and adorn the hazel and willow, soft as rabbit fur. The pearly gleam of the first snowdrops nestle in the bulwark roots of a sycamore; tissue paper flowers of cherry and blackthorn, impossibly fragile yet, knowing the time has come, have come. Acid green shoots of spring flowers lie close to the ground, like the helmets of soldiers waiting to go ‘over the top’.

Spring knows about waiting. She has been here through many ‘before’s. It has been a Winter worthy of the name and is not yet over. She does not easily sacrifice her bounty to late frosts and arctic winds; better to be patient. To let Winter live out his last days as Regent; there is still nobility to be earned in the trials of ice and cold.

No need to hurry; there is a lesson to be learnt; there is a time to every season.


No comments: