Monday, 2 February 2009

The stupidity of men (and women); or some of them

I wasn’t going to post an entry today but was so incensed at the stupidity of this country that I felt I must. It’s snowing,  and our Capital City has come to a standstill because of a few inches of snow! Have we all become wimps? What a ridiculous impression we must create abroad; all buses cancelled in London, people advised not to make journeys, though London’s mayor, Boris Johnston (not at all the buffoon he sometime appears to be), commented that "heavy snow was not an excuse for a mass skive!" Well it’s certainly quietened traffic through this village (bliss) and we have only a light dusting.

It has made the birds particularly active – inclement weather brings unusual bird behaviour: a blackbird ‘drinking’ snow (actually eating it from the top of the bird bath), a robin in mid-hover at the seed-feeder, a thrush singing in the top of the snow-clad eucalyptus, and a bright golden-headed yellow-hammer accepting seed dropped by the table-feeders. I make a second mug of hot tea and go back to bed (it’s still early) and look across the village green to the woods beyond – snow-mist hanging over the hills, tiny snow crystals so small they would fall as drizzle if it was raining. I lean out of the bedroom window to take a photo of snow bejewelling a solitary self-seeded clump of teasels that should not have been allowed to stay in our front garden – but goldfinches love them so I let them be. Snow flies in the window. Maybe I will venture outside later, through the back-back-door tucked into a sheltered angle of our house. Our usual (kitchen) door faces east from whence the bitter wind blows, so we have hung over it a thick old brown velour curtain that once belonged to my grandmother. It shields us from the icy blast that insinuates itself under, round and through the door’s wood panelling. The kitchen still feels like an ice-box.

I am wondering why I should feel so lethargic today, having spent Sunday in Julia Cameron mode ‘refilling the well’: reading the first chapter (hour one) of the HTML book which thankfully made sense, also read a chapter from 'Drawing Birds' - such an inspiring book, and created page one of a ‘Garden Notes’ newsletter, now published on my website. I need to find old photos of the garden as it was in 1969, and earlier if I can. Today I work a little half-heartedly, sorting photos to accompany an article whose deadline was last week (!) progressing at half speed. I need to get back to some art, making the napkin-covered Easter eggs that will appear ‘on the page’ in late March. Tomorrow for that, once I've written picture captions to the 33 selected for the article.

I dug out the following poem written in 1997, almost the last time we had snow at this time of year. Snow in winter is so very different to that which falls when least expected (6th April in 2008, 12th June in around 1973). Spring snow is always blanketing and very quickly slushy; today’s light covering felt very different. Clearly I was in a state of depression when I wrote 'January Snow', twelve years ago; not so today, but a ‘poetry moment’ did not materialise. It might have done had I not turned on the news!

January Snow

High hills, drifted snow curling
   round-folded in the wintry hedgerows.
Sharp, solemn shapes of penetrating cold
Pervading our very being. Winter:
   fields, hills, heaven and earth,
Waiting ...........
   for our minds to wake, to re-emerge
   from dull depression, to those
   aching, lovely sights and sounds
Of the everlasting snow-lipped hills.

asm 15.1.97


  1. Thank you for sharing your poem here - I loved the quiet cadences and rhythm. Thank you also for leaving words on my blog, much appreciated and I wish you a good week - Cathy (november moon)

  2. I love "everlasting snow-lipped hills." I read of this wild snowy phenomenon on Soulbrush's blog she lives in London. She showed the photos and I must say I did chuckle as the amount of snow looked so small. Still, better safe than sorry and perhaps London does not have snow plows??

  3. oh, yes, the dreaded shut down - it happens here also - not as much as it used to - we seem to be able to adapt better now for some reason - loved the pics of the light snow and enjoyed your poem......

  4. Perfect pictures and poem for a snow day. I too live where snow is a rarity and I love how it invokes almost a feeling of holiday when it arrives. The way everything is transformed by a blanket of whiteness, one so beautiful illustrated by your photos. Fleeting moments of purity.

  5. Beautiful post and pictures Ann. It was lovely to have a snow day yesterday - even here in Central Scotland we don't see it enough and maybe we do need that quietening down of the senses to make us appreciate what is to come. Thaw is on now, so maybe spring is getting a tighter hold now.

  6. Beautiful post and pictures Ann. We don't get much snow here in Central Scotland and I do think we need that dulling of the senses to make us appreciate the season to come. Your poem captured that for me.

  7. I was somewhat ashamed of my outburst yesterday regarding London's shutdown (won't explain the background to it here), but today (Tues 3rd) stimulated a poetry moment; out we went to take pics; I will post something this evening, UK time.

  8. Lovely poem, I did enjoy.

    I anm afraid I had to shut up shop and come home today as the snow was heavy and the roads terrible.

  9. It seems London and Seattle have a lot in common, regarding the inability to handle large amounts of snow. December in the Seattle area was a nightmare AND a blessing. People weren't able to 'get around' and do all of their last-minute mall shopping. But, it turns out, families spent a lot more quality time together. What a concept! Beautiful pictures.

  10. It seems that Seattle and London have a lot in common when it comes to handling huge amounts of snow! The same thing happened in December in the Seattle area, and instead of 'last minute' Christmas shopping people were forced to spend much more quality time with family and friends. What a concept!

  11. I felt the same as you Ann - But I was heartened by the story of the man who had walked 10 miles in London's Primrose Hill to get to his work at the hospital........... no stopping some folks in Britain!!! I was staggered by the amount of money it seems to have cost the country - and thats only one day!(on tonight's news!) Loved the writing about the birds and felt I was there in your garden

  12. London made the news here last night. They said it does not have one snowplow. Lest you think you are alone in this, we will close schools the day before there is even a chance of snow! We lived in Chicago the year the received 96 inches of snow. It created such an uproar that the mayor lost the election because they couldn't keep up with the now. Chicago puts snow plows on the front of dump trucks. A rather novel approach I think!

  13. I thank everyone for their comments - I think I was somewhat outspoken, but my point was that London is our capital city; do we give in too easily? I recall when we had fifteen feet of snow here in the early 1980s, the farmers kept one road open out of the village to the top of our steep hill. We could not use the car but walked the four miles - not far I know - to get to our offices so that our staff who had also struggled in could manage their day's work. A.