Sunday, 15 February 2009

We're Green Again.

There is nothing like snow for showing up the contours of the land. Driving over "the tops" for the last fortnight has been a feast for the eyes: not just the beauty of the white landscape, but also the fact that at a distance one could see ever dip and hollow in every hill. As you come over one particular road you can see Arkengarthdale on your right and Coverdale on your left. Arkengarthdale is a landscape that is largely man-made. Yes, of course, the Dales were originally created by Glacial action, but this particular dale held a commodity which was at one time much sought after - lead. The old leadmining workings have been ruined for a century, but the heughs - or "hushes" - deep channels down the sides of the hills where lead miners dammed the bottom and then flushed the lead out with water - can always be seen and never more so than when the land is covered in snow.
We went to bed last night with the fields still snow-covered, although when the farmer took Tess out for her last walk (there is another story there for on these dark nights he goes out with a storm lantern in his hand and from the kitchen window he reminds me of Good King Wenceslas) he came in remarking that it felt as thought the temperature was above freezing.
He was right. This morning the fields are green except where it lingers - particularly in the furrows. This area was known for its rig and furrow method of farming, where the ploughed land was heaped up in lines leaving the dips in between (thus giving slightly more surface area). You no long notice the rig and furrow system, except when there is snow on the ground.
The other farming method which still stands out this morning is the thousand-year-old cultivation terraces, which also litter our fields. Farmers produced this terracing - it is still done in hilly areas - I have seen it a lot in China - mainly on common fields. These lynchets, as they are called round here - show up so clearly this morning in their green and white stripes.
At the bird table there is much less activity - the board of sunflower hearts that the farmer has been putting out for our fourteen + blackbirds, has been pecked clean this morning, by a couple of pheasants, while the blackbirds have fallen out around them.
Casserole for lunch is in the oven - the first rhubarb of the season is gently stewing with preserved ginger for pudding - the log fire is lit - Country File is on the TV any minute now - and outside the first vestiges of Spring are in the air - can't be bad.

18 comments:

jinksy said...

Hang out the flags!

Derrick said...

You are quite right, Weaver! A big transformation overnight. When is lunch due? We may pop in!!

HelenMHunt said...

Sounds perfect. Especially the lunch.

Dave King said...

Wonderfully written. I would rather have been there to experience it at first hand, but your account is the next best thing.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Oh, rhubarb pudding! How I wish I could be there!

I love the name Arkengarthdale. It sounds full of mystery and like the starting point for adventures ...

Dragonstar said...

Sounds wonderful! Must be so good to see grass again.

EB said...

Interesting, I'd not heard of terracing being done in England, but like you I've seen it abroad - Andorra and Sri Lanka. So much effort to achieve something I never even think about - a flat surface! (Though I did think about it at very great length when I had to do my share of rotovating a formerly ploughed field last spring...)

Chere said...

I am on my way for lunch. Think you can wait that long? Spring is truly in the air. Spotted Robins searching for worms yesterday. Enjoy your day.

Leslie said...

What beautiful pictures you paint with words. Each blog you write makes me feel like have I just been there.
I made a big pot of beef stew but, what you are making sounds just yummy.
I am glad you snow is melting.
Stay warm. ~~~~~Leslie

patteran said...

Another evocative post, Pat. I well remember the effect of snow across the Yorkshire Dales being exactly as you describe. I recall standing at my dormitory window in the early morning and (after scraping ice off the glass; there was no central heating) looking over fields with every contour picked out by a full moon. I remember too the lead mine workings - deep well holes protected only by a circular dry stone wall. I have a poem about one that I'll post soon.

Sal said...

Yes thank you..I did email you to say thanks but don't know if you received it..aol can be funny!
Have spent the day working at Macbeth..hubby even said he would cook a roast so that I can spend more time on it. ;-)

Thanks again!!

Elizabeth said...

In spite of our blue skies, it's bitter cold in NY.
I only saw about one centimeter of a bulb poking out.
And you have the first rhubarb - dreams for us here as yet. And a log fire.
I visit England through your posts.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Again you capture your corner so well, with such lovely words. From white to green overnight is quite the treat, almost magic.

That mention of the season's first rhubarb sounds wonderful, though my rhubarb experience always came in the form of pies my mother baked. It has been too many years since I had a slice, . So I've made up my mind that—though I'm a fairly inexperienced pie baker—when our own rhubarb time comes, in late-March or April, I intend to try my hand at a pie.

Heather said...

Your lunch sounds very appealing. I am always surprised by the speed with which a thaw sets in - can it be only a week ago when we couldn't get up the road in the car? We have been green for a few days now and I wondered how you were fairing further north. We have been enjoying a TV programme called The Victorian Farm. Have you seen it? I think you would like it.

Woman in a Window said...

the first rhubarb of the season is gently stewing
??
!
Not bad at all, I'd say.

Bdogs said...

Oh, I do love rhubarb! Your description of the bones of the land is wonderful. I also didn't realize there had been terraces, and so long ago. Our fields were slightly terraced, here, but the farming has been replaced by cattle ranching. In spring, the bluebonnets pop out along the old terraced edges. That should be in April. Bluebonnets are our natural wonder and I'll try to get good photographs. Your lunch sounded downright cozy...

The Weaver of Grass said...

Goodness me - I can see that food is uppermost in the minds of a lot of my readers! Must be the cold weather. Scribe - do you have crumble in the US? It is easier than pastry - if you don't then let me know and I will give you the recipe.
Dick - you paint a bleak picture of Boarding School Dorms without central heating - we made 'em tough in those days!
Raph - our Dales are all named after the watercourse which runs through them - Arkengarthdale after the Arkle Beck which runs eventually into the River Swale. Wensleydale, where I live, is the exception - it is named after the village of Wensley. It used to be called Yoredale - are the River Ure which runs through it.
And to all of you who fancy some rhubarb - it is delicious gently cooked with a little stem ginger and a drop of the liquid from the jar.

BT said...

What a lovely post Weaver. The snow is lovely but the green is better! Our rhubarb is only just peeping through! Your home sounds so warm and inviting.