Monday, March 13, 2006

Winter's retreat

click photo to enlarge
When summer is upon us, all bright, green, warm and dry, and going out requires little thought about what to wear, it is sometimes hard to imagine how long and cold the winter can be. This year it has seemed even longer than usual because the ice and snow arrived just as we thought spring had almost sprung. Daffodils and crocuses had opened, buds and catkins were noticeable on the trees, and the heads of many black-headed gulls were showing their summer feathers. Then, at least on the Fylde Coast of Lancashire, down came the first real snow of winter. And not the wet, slushy stuff usually associated with our proximity to the sea. No, it was real, powdery, wind-blown snow, accompanied by freezing conditions.

It's fun to walk across the fields and hills in the blinding whiteness of a sunny, snow-covered January day. But it's another story in March when the bulbs, the leaves and the buds are being scorched by the coldness that is thrust upon them. Snow arriving in March steals the thoughts of spring that have been steadily growing with the lengthening days.

I took the photograph above on a bright day as the sun was asserting its ascendancy over the snow and ice. On this stream near Garstang the surface of the water was moving again, and the ripples were bending the light, throwing bright wavy lines on to the pebbles below. The fringing ice was slowly retreating, its sharp, white, angular patterns becoming soft, clear and rounded as they melted. As a representation of the onset of spring this shot is more characteristic of those northerly climes where the snow settles for months on end. This year it represents Lancashire!
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen