Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Blackthorn winter

I must admit that I really didn't believe it when they first started forecasting snow just before the weekend. Surely the most we could expect at this time of year is a light dusting. Oh how wrong I was.  As I travelled to work Monday morning, I admired the pretty blossoms of blackthorn and almond. On the way back I was glaring at increasingly heavy, driving snow. In The Woodlands (1825) William Cobbett talks about blackthorn winter.

It is a remarkable fact, that there is always, that is every  year of our lives, a spell of cold and angry weather, just at the time that this hardy little tree is in bloom. The country people call it the Black Thorn winter; and thus it has been called, I dare say, by all the inhabitants of this island, from generation to generation, for a thousand years.

Over the last day or so the weather has been more than angry enough. When I was coming home Browns Lane in Uckfield was getting too treacherous for most vehicles. The snow seemed to be falling in gusts and flurries for most of the night. By morning it wasn't, on average, very deep but the wind had swept snow off the Dene and onto the pavement and road. When I trudged to the shops it came over the top of my boots. Our little daffodils were completely buried and there was a good dusting over the trees and shrubs.

The aptly named Cornish Snow camelia, photographed 12 March.

But what of our wildlife? This morning, there were very few foot prints in the snow. We put food and water out for the birds and were rewarded with a mob of squawking starlings. As for the frog spawn that was laid only a few days ago, I'm hoping that the snow has been a protective blanket rather than a shroud.

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