The White Stuff

I am four years old and fast asleep in my bed at home. Suddenly I am aware of being lifted up. Sleepily I realise I am in my father’s arms. It is winter, pitch dark and cold in my un-heated bedroom, I shiver for a moment until he wraps me in warm a blanket and carries me down stairs.

‘I’ve something to show you,’ he whispers.

My mother is waiting at the foot of the stairs and she opens the front door of our house and my father carries me out into the garden. Something magical has happened. Our small suburban garden has been transformed into a sparkling wonderland. The lawn has a carpet of white diamonds and the willow trees beyond are bowed down with ice crystals glowing in the yellow street lights.
Our home is on the Wirral peninsular, a suburb of Liverpool. The murky Mersey flows on one side of this little finger of land and the broad Dee estuary borders the other. The climate is mild and only rarely does the temperature drop below freezing. In my short life it is the first time I have seen snow, I am transfixed in wonder.

snow ness

It’s almost 60 years since I was that little boy on Merseyside, glimpsing snow for the first time, but still it’s ability to transform the landscape fascinates me. That fascination has shaped my life. In the intervening years I have wandered the frozen hills of Scotland, climbed ice in Canada and scaled Europe’s highest peak. I have shivered in Highland bothies and hacked my way up African ice, yet still I am drawn to the white stuff. I have lived in Scotland for the last forty years so I can enjoy the Highland winter.

This year, for the first time in several years, November yields our first descent snow fall and, like the snow bunny I am, I just have to get out in it and spend the day walking the hills above Loch Ness. I meet this cheeky Robin who perches near me as I put on my boots and looks accusingly at me as I have no crumbs to give him.

robin

The woodland trees are festooned with ice crystals. This image appears to be in black and white but it is in colour, the snow has narrowed the spectrum of light in the forest.

Tree

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Above the tree line the wind and the falling snow above Loch Ness combine to a view of savage grandeur.

Snow ness2

I feel so lucky to have spent the day amongst the snow. The little boy in the blanket is inside me still.

me hood

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