Tuesday, March 20, 2018

snow and wood

We had a new batch of snow at the week-end: Swindon's third of this winter.  The temperature was only just about freezing. The snow sparkled both in the air and on the ground, as if it hadn't quite made up its mind what it was going to be, and half-thought about melting.

As it happened the temperature got colder and it snowed all night. While we marched home from the Costa Drive-Through at 23:00 on Saturday, in veils of glinting snow, I tried to think what the snow surface reminded me of, but I couldn't quite place it. It was some kind of peppermint confection from my childhood, maybe home-made, with exactly this pure white sparkling surface. The evocation had something yearning in it, and I decided my grandmother must have been involved, the English one. Perhaps someone gave her a box of Clarnico mint creams, and I helped her eat them. An event of no significance at all, at the time. Though to a child peppermint creams are never altogether trivial.

On Sunday the snow froze harder, and on compacted pathways it broke up into crunchy pieces of peanut brittle, except they were transparent. (What is it about sweets? It seems that when we reach middle age we begin to obsess about childhood confectionery, as well as buying old albums of the music of our teens.)

The wind was so piercing that we pretty much ignored the unexpected emergence of a pure white Little Egret from out of a stream threading through the housing estates. It stood clumsily in a willow tree waiting for us to go away, which was immediately. We had no time for exotic birds that morning, we were desperate to stamp some warmth into our feet.

There was no visit to the wood on Monday, we were in John Lewis eating soup,  so I missed any chance of learning more about animal tracks.  But I was back in the wood today. The snow had almost gone.

Scarlet Elf-Cup

Two regular highlights of the wood in spring. Scarlet Elf-Cup appears on some of the fallen twigs.

There's an increasing population of False Oxlip here (Primula x polyantha) . More than there are ordinary primroses, in fact.

Young nettles

More tufts of grass, but this time I can't pretend to recognize them. I'll just have to remember where they are and keep watching them until they produce flowerheads.

A grass with a pretty distinctive appearance at this time of year.

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