Subscribe to feed Viewing entries tagged snowdrops

Spring, redux.

Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 19 March 2014
Out in the world, strange and alarming events fill the news. The inexplicably missing aeroplane, the Russians continuing their imperial ambitions, the ongoing tragedy of Syria bombard the mind. Here, in the contained, small, rural world in which I live, I concentrate hard on the turning of the seasons. When everything is uncertain, the things of the earth are soothing to a baffled mind.

The elegance of the crocuses.The elegance of the crocuses.

Spring comes late in Scotland. Our snowdrops are only just starting to fade. This morning, I see, with outrageous triumph, the first two daffodils of the year. Pearl the Postwoman arrives, smiling. She looks up at the sky, which is an improbable blue. ‘I thought winter would never end,’ she says. ‘It was so wet and muddy I had trench foot.’

We laugh. I think, for the hundredth time, how splendid it is that we have a postwoman called Pearl. I think: perhaps I can really believe in spring, at last.

Even as the sun shines with serious conviction, there is still snow on the high hills.Even as the sun shines with serious conviction, there is still snow on the high hills.

The first harbingers arrived a couple of weeks ago – the oystercatchers in from the coast, the pied wagtails doing their little dance, the woodpeckers battering away at the trees. But there is always a moment when one thinks it is a great joke, and that the winter will reassert itself, and everything will return to a defensive crouch.

The simple joy of rooting out the first of the spring grass.The simple joy of rooting out the first of the spring grass.

Now, though, it seems as if the matter is in earnest. There really is some warmth in the soil, and the growing things are growing, and the horses relax and bloom, unfurling themselves to the new warmth in the air like flowers themselves. Horses deal with weather much better than humans. They shut up within themselves, hunkering down for the duration with a slow stoicism. Now that the rapier chill has gone out of the weather, they open up, as if they are forming their very own welcoming committee. It’s an enchanting thing to watch. They also get a bit of spring fever, putting on their own little rodeo in the field, bucking and leaping and kicking up their heels and showing off with a few fast canters around the place.

Everything takes on a hopeful aspect. It will still be many weeks before we see a leaf on a tree. The blossom is still a distant dream. But the cold land is waking after its winter sleep, and there really is something magical in that.

Spring.

Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 11 March 2014
As world events get very gnarly, and Russia rattles her sabres, the shouting about Scottish independence seems to stop for a moment. The headlines in my little field are all about the changing of the season. Every year, this takes me by surprise.

Crocuses.
We have not had a bitter winter as we did last year, when snow and ice lay on the ground for three weeks at a time. It’s been quite mild, with hardly any of the glittering hoar frosts that usually run through January and only a little snow on the hills. But it has been wet and stormy and we have been hock deep in mud. The thing that wears away at the spirit is the lack of anything growing. At first, in November and December, this stark minimalism can seem quite delightful. The trees look dramatic and sculptural; the single robin stands out like a star actor, because there are hardly any birds around.

But by March, one’s very soul is weary of the nothingness. I suddenly crave green grass and leaves. I stare doggedly at the horses’ paddocks, willing something verdant to begin.

Snowdrops.

The grass is not yet arriving, and the mud still reigns, but, just as I can’t stand it any more, there are growing things. My hellebores are in their pomp, and the brave little winter viburnum is putting on a show. The snowdrops came two weeks ago and are particularly dramatic this year, bigger and bolder than ever before. The first daffodil shoots, which are only just arriving, are starting to poke through the thin turf as if they really mean it. Tiny, delicate, acid-green leaves have come out on my philadelphus. There will not be a leaf on a tree for a long time yet, but if you look closely, you can see the minute buds filling with life.

Viburnum.

Birdsong has returned. I do not realise how silent winter can be until the birds begin to sing again. There is a proper chorus now, so that even the questing lurcher lifts his head to listen. Yesterday, I saw the first pied wagtail of the season. She flew low over the horses’ heads and came to a dramatic landing in the west paddock and preened and flirted about, as if delighted to be back. They go south in the winter, not to Africa like the swallows, but just over the border, perhaps to somewhere charming like Northumberland or the Lake District. The oystercatchers, who take themselves off to the coast, are also back, singing their gaudy songs all night like drunken sailors. They come here to nest and breed each year, and they are the official harbingers of spring. I also saw a perfect gang of black-faced gulls yesterday morning, milling about as if they were at a cocktail party.

It is not quite yet serious spring. But is the promise of spring. And it is like being given a present.

Snow joke

Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 26 March 2013
On and on goes the weather. The snow blows in and out, sullen and relentless. Every single conversation in my village centres around matters meteorological. People spar over their preferred forecast, and make gloomy long-range predictions. (No change till May, I heard someone say yesterday.) An ex-Marine I know who used to fly helicopters does not mess around with the namby-pamby civilian weather maps, with their little cloud and snowflake symbols, but goes straight to the hard-core professional numbers, where he can interpret isobars and barometrics. Even he, a hardened professional who complains of nothing, is a little baffled and battered by this endless bombardment. ‘I’m blood fed up,’ he suddenly shouts.

tania march26 Our brave old telegraph poles, which are staunchly holding up against the weather
The snowdrops have disappeared completely and some puzzled daffodils are just poking tentative green shoots through the icy white. The horses wade carefully through the dirty snow and sucking mud, comforting themselves with the good hay. They are actually staying very calm and fatalistic, although I do think my dear mare must be dreaming of the southern springs she used to know. There’s no question of doing any actual work with them, the ground is too treacherous, so we just feed them and gentle them and hope for better days.

I make a bewildering variety of soups, in a last-ditch effort to stay warm, and feel passionately grateful that the power is still on. The poor people of Arran have been without electricity since Friday, and despite a team of 150 engineers being shipped in to the island, there is no end in sight. Astonishing pictures of buckled pylons and twelve-foot-high drifts litter the internet.

Even with my radiators blazing and my boiler cranking away like a Trojan, my house still carries a chill. I think of the old, fierce winters, the famous freeze of 1947, when snow fell every day from January 22nd to March 17th. There would have been hardly any central heating in those days. I wonder how the poor people of Blighty managed. They would have been exhausted from the war; rationing was still in full force. They must have had to call on every last ounce of Blitz spirit.

One of my neighbours is so beaten by the cold that she finally snapped, got on the internet at midnight, and booked a ticket to Majorca. I look at their forecast. Twenty toasting degrees. I can hardly even imagine what that must feel like.

Still, there is proper British stoicism to draw on. The stoic runs through the character of North-East Scotland like the granite that is so much a feature of the landscape here. I admit that I have been freely resorting to cake. No doubt a little whisky may also be prescribed. But there’s nothing for it but to keep bashing on.


Forgot your password?
Click to read our digital edition
Place-Classified-advert-336
TLR-advert-May2014-336

Boarders Dormitory Master-Mistress
We are looking to appoint a Dormitory Mistress/Master for 5 nights per week, weekday evenings and nights only, term time. (35 weeks). [...]

APPLY NOW


Housekeeper to Headmaster
We have an opportunity for an experienced live-out housekeeper. You will provide a cleaning and hospitality service for the Headmaster and his guests and help to ensure the household runs efficiently. [...]

APPLY NOW


Full Time Housekeeper, Nanny
We are looking for a full time, live-out housekeeper/nanny. We are a relaxed young couple living in a large country house, and will have one newborn baby. [...]

APPLY NOW


Experienced Carer, Companion, Housekeeper needed
Our elderly mother needs a live in carer/companion on a part time basis. Must be warm hearted, calm & compassionate, with a good sense of humour. [...]

APPLY NOW


Cook, Housekeeper wanted
Good cooking skills required to cater for light meals for the Principal and a small staff, as well as occasional lunch/dinner parties. [...]

APPLY NOW



MORE JOBS LIKE THESE
Lady-directory-button-NEW

Horoscopes

What the stars have in store for you this week.2017

Capricorn Aquarius Pisces Aries Taurus Gemini Cancer Leo Virgo Libra Scorpio Sagittarius

Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter