Monday, 27 December 2010
A Little learning.....
well - the celebrations are over for a little while - until New Year's Eve anyway. Yesterday nine family and friends had a pleasant day eating and sitting by the fire. Luckily this year the celebrations were just right for the lady who cleans for me and she came this morning, so everything is all ready for New Year's Eve. The farmer has gone off shooting (well, beating as he doesn't care for killing things) with the synidicate, taking with him turkey and stuffing sandwiches and a flask of coffee and rum. So I have a quiet day to myself.
It is snowing. Heavily. It has been snowing since before we got up this morning and the sky looks heavy with more snow. Depending upon whom you speak to the snow was forecast, or it was meant to precede rain coming in on a warm front from the West, it would turn to rain later, the isobars were getting closer together so we might have wind later in the week. And so it goes on. Which leads me to the Alexander Pope quotation which I start as a title for this piece. Here is the first little bit of it:-
A little learning is a dang'rous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers up again.
I have encountered this 'little learning' in my recent illness, where well-meaning friends have 'counselled' me, told me of people they have know with the same condition, discussed possible outcomes - my head has been filled with these little learnings. Now I am going to see a Neurologist - bit more learning there methinks - so I intend to listen to what he has to say.
But over the last twenty years or so, nowhere has this little learning come more into play than with the weather. We see a forecast every few hours on television, where they talk about fronts, jet streams, isobars, blocks of cold air, blocks of warm air. We all become mini-forecasters in our own right.
But I do sometimes wonder whether the farmer, with his lifetime of being outdoors and seeing the signs, is more accurate. If the sky is black over Zebra Hill, which lies North West out of our kitchen window, then sure as eggs are eggs, it is going to rain - and soon. And if he comes in and says he can smell rain on the wind - then it is going to rain. If the sky is red in the morning then that is a shepherd's warning and there is bad weather about. Similarly, if the sky is red at night then it is the shepherd's delight and the weather is settled for a few days to come. I could go on. But sufficient to say that my New Year resolutions will include one along the lines of leaving things to the experts.
On the subject of snow, Paul Simons in The Times (an expert on weather if ever there was one) says today that the reason we are so overcome by cold here is because we do not take precautions early enough. Apparently in Siberia, where temperatures in Yakutsk regularly reach minus 71 he says they take the cold far more seriously than we do and begin to wrap up well when the temperature is 10. Extra layers, thicker gloves and hats, heating 24 hours a day, triple glazing on the windows. Actually, thinking about minus 71 has made me feel considerably warmer and cosier here in North Yorkshire!
Keep warm and cosy as you prepare for the old year to depart and a new one to come in.