Fire and Ice

We woke on Saturday morning to a fiery red sunrise; the herald of interesting weather to come, as tradition would have it.

Sunrise before snow

King of the Hill was quick to grab the camera, and seized a few shots before the colours fled. The sun continued its ascent, soon to be swallowed by the thick layer of cloud which hovered above. The ribbon of clear sky on the horizon that had flared red faded into obscurity once more, and the day settled into a pale grey.

Then the snow began to fall from those thick clouds, gently at first. After a cold night, the snowflakes started to settle comfortably onto the land this time.

Frosting of snow on the garden

King of the Hill worked quickly as the snow tumbled down mid-morning, wheeling barrows of logs from the woodstore at the bottom of the garden to the store by the house; chopping kindling from the pile of broken pallets at the feet of the horse chestnut and beech trees. We then left the woodstoves burning to drive to a friend’s daughter’s first birthday party some distance away.

As the afternoon drew to an end, the falling snow we drove through turned to rain, and by the time we reached home all trace of snow had been washed away.

There was no further snow for us overnight; reports across the UK tell of drivers stranded, flights cancelled and people battling with deep snow, but we woke to a dry day. We wrapped up warm and strode out into the countryside for a bracing walk. We had thoughts of trying a new route, although we were mindful that it involved crossing a low plain. As we descended the country lane which led towards the cross-country path we had in mind, the surface beneath our feet crunching with freckled patches of ice, we could see that the grassland stretched out ahead was indeed heavily waterlogged.

Flooded moorland below

That would make a pretty impressive ice rink if the deep freeze continues, we joked, and continued on down the dirt track, wondering whether we would be able to navigate our way across on our intended route. As we came out into the open fields, we found the grassland was strangely half-frozen; hummocks of stiff frozen grass and crisp mud ringed with pools of water – interesting terrain to traverse. A fast-flowing stream had burst its boundaries and formed impromptu tributaries which snaked across the grass, too deep to cross and barring our way. Reluctantly we turned around and continued back to higher ground.

Stream through moorland

We retraced our steps and joined a familiar route, avoiding the rough terrain made impassable by the weather. Even one of these surfaced lanes presented some challenges, where excess water from the fields had run onto the roads and frozen and thawed repeatedly to form glassy lengths of a treacherous mix of water and ice.

Ice on country lane

Refusing to be turned around again, we inched our way along the narrow frozen banks along the side of three such stretches, before returning to solid ground to complete our walk in a more conventional manner. Needless to say, this lane is not frequented by much traffic besides the occasional tractor – or lost tourist.

Broken ice on country lane

Not the route we had intended to take, but an interesting way to get the blood pumping on a cold Sunday morning. We returned for a hot lunch, and then I took advantage of the milder weather to plant out a small parcel of snowdrops that had been delivered at the end of the week. Sent “in the green”, the bulbs had long shoots with the first white buds already showing. On arrival I had unpacked and laid the plants down on a windowsill temporarily and kept the roots damp for the day or two until I could get into the garden in daylight. Already the shoots had bent up towards the light.

Snowdrops in the green

It was an interesting challenge to plant them out in this condition – another time, I must stand them upright if I cannot plant them out immediately! I hope that they soon recover from this curl, and settle into their new homes.

More reports of bad weather across the region and country today have shown us how lucky we are in our little microclimate not to be several inches under snow today. I hope that you and your gardens are faring well?


16 thoughts on “Fire and Ice

  1. You have our snow and cold temperatures. Please feel free to keep them. I like our unusually warm winter here in the Ohio Valley (US).

    • Good luck. I was a little bit disappointed that we didn’t get more snow to play in, but grateful this morning that we didn’t have to scrape snow or ice off the car or navigate too much ice on the roads.

  2. glad you are snow free Sara though that ice looks cold! no snow or ice here just now and even the wind seems to be resting which makes a nice change, a beautiful sunrise, they don’t last long but are so beautiful, keep warm, Frances

  3. No snow here but it’s cold and icy. I have to put grit on the deck some mornings just to get up to the hens and walking the dog can be a bit precarious at times. Got ourselves some crampons for our boots. I wonder if they make them for dogs?
    Lovely sunrise. You do get some great views from the top of the hill.

    • I love the idea of crampons for dogs. 🙂 I think the ice is worse than snow, today is a few degrees milder than it has been, a welcome break though there is still ice about.

  4. It snowed all day Saturday here in South Wales, just enough to look pretty but not enough to cause problems and then it turned to rain and it was all gone by Sunday. It’s a little milder today but the ground is too wet to sneak up to the plot to try and do any work and then it’s meant to be colder for the rest of the week. Stunning sunrise.

    • Yes, a day of snow which turned to rain and then washed away, I think we got off quite lightly in South Wales (although it sounds as though there was heavier snow up in the valleys).

  5. The top sunset photo is beautiful. We had quite a lot of snow, in fact it’s still very much here in the garden but luckily the roads were ploughed and gritted this year, so it’s not been very challenging. I hope the snowdrops do well for you, I keep meaning to order some for our garden but always forget. Bethx

    • KOTH was very quick to grab the camera and catch the sunrise before it faded, and justifiably pleased with that shot. Sounds like a good snowfall – enough to enjoy the beauty and keep the boys happy without everything grinding to a halt.

  6. Bloody gorgeous sunrise heralding from Hillwards. A remarkably stunning contrast with the snow white drops and ice rivulets. Bet the cats stayed in the warm whilst you ventured forth into the wintery wilds 😉

    • Yes the fiery start was certainly a contrast to the rest of the weekend, which was composed mainly of shades of white, grey and green. Indeed, the cats spent much of the weekend watching our comings and goings from half-closed eyes, curled up on the sofa in front of the fire.

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