Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Our World in Black and White.

According to the Weatherman, there is a battle going on over our heads between a large block of cold air which has settled over the United Kingdom from the Arctic and a block of warm air floating up from The Azores. As with any battle there is fall-out; in this case it is heavy snow, which is scheduled to fall on Devon and South Wales as I write. Elsewhere the "Great Freeze" is said to be giving way to the "Great Thaw". Here in the Yorkshire Dales, for "great" read "little", for most of our snow is going nowhere yet.

Consequently, today we are living in a black-and-white world. The privet hedge outside the kitchen window - a yard away from where I stand - is a dull green, but elsewhere everything is black or white, with the odd touch of grey when a collared dove lands near enough to be seen.

The silent voice of snow, as Ronald Blythe calls it, fills in the bulk of the landscape. Here and there the black skeleton of a tree stands out in all its beauty, as though drawn by the artist's pen; its shape, its every branch and twig seems carefully etched against a white background.

At the top of the field there is just a suggestion of a copse of trees. I know it well. The trees all bend to the East, shaped in their growing by our prevailing West wind. But now, in the mist, I can see only a faint smudging and as I watch even that is erased as though the artist sketching the scene has decided, with artistic licence, to rub them out - and has gently drawn the eraser over them.

There are two cock pheasant in the field. I know them too. These same two stroll down the drive to our feeding station each lunch time in all their finery, to dine. But now, as they stand out in the middle of the white field, they are black - a sketched outline filled in with pencil hatching. No hint of colour.

On the farm gate a few garden birds sit, identifiable only by their shape - there a blackbird, there a jackdaw, there a finch of some kind. No vestige of colour visible.

And in the lane two tyre tracks shine out like Whitby jet, black and glittering, although whether with damp or with black ice it is difficult to tell.

There is a drawn quality to our landscape. It is as though I am looking at the "real" scene, rather like a drawing of a naked figure, without clothes, without jewelry, without any kind of finery, with no adornment - so that we see it as it really is.

I hate this damp, icy drizzle, this mist that comes and goes at a whim, this dark world where we need the light on all day. But just for a little while I look out and realise that I am seeing the bare bones of the landscape. But then the greater spotted woodpecker arrives at the peanut basket and his red nape adds a faint touch of colour to the scene.

Time to light the wood-burning stove and get buttering the crumpets.


Sal said...

Great post!
The snow in our garden has all gone now.
After a worrying evening,I'll be glad to see the back of this icy weather!
Incredibly,my garden looks so green! I can't stop looking at it!! (And must take a pic!)

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Oh Weaver, what a beautiful word-picture you have drawn for us here! Magnificent.

I too love to see the bare bones of the landscape. I shall go and look at ours now and see it through your eyes, like a black and white drawing.

jinksy said...

My morning assemblies were almost as strict as yours! What memories you stirred up - particularly the day I got hiccups whilst endeavouring to sing the morning hymn...

Golden West said...

As surely as night follows day, spring is merely weeks away and your corner of the world will burst forth with a greenness all the more beautiful for the abundant snow!

But in the meantime, stay warm, Weaver!

willow said...

You know, when I was watching Doctor Zhivago last week, I noticed that most of the scenes were in a neutral palette, with just a touch of red somewhere, just like your woodpecker.

Hildred and Charles said...

Lovely word image Weaver, - bare bones can be quite beautiful.

Textile Art Showcase said...

Oohh those crumpets really sound inviting Weaver!
Your landscape reminds of the old black and white films - they seem so dark and uninviting when you come across one these days - we are so tuned in to colour and bright lights that we really notice the difference. Lets hope the weather from the Azores wins the battle!! and very soon.

Heather said...

We've just had homemade soup and a couple of crumpets for lunch. Real comfort food. There seems to be no let up even though it appears to be thawing. Beautiful post Weaver, so descriptive we could be right beside you.

Pondside said...

It sounds as though you are not through the worst of it yet. A hot, buttered crumpet should ease the pain!

rallentanda said...

Your words and photos have captured the stillness and beautiful bleakness of the weather.I think it looks wonderful from where I am
on this hot summer's night.Bet your creative juices are flowing and you're writing loads of good poems.

Bovey Belle said...

More snow here yesterday afternoon and again this morning, but it feels warmer now and it's definitely trying to thaw a bit. I have to say, my heart sank when I opened the curtains to snow falling again this morning, beautiful though it was and there was no temptation to go out with my camera!

Our landscape is like a negative too, but softening to a grey-blue haze across the valley.

maggi said...

The weathermen obviously forgot the East Midlands. It had been snowing here all day, now heavier than ever, the sky is sullen and I can't even see alandscape let alone its bones. What was a cleared drive yesterday is now back under another two inches.

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

Any of those crumpets left?! I grew up learning to call them pikelets; the larger, thinner versions we called oat cakes, very different to Scottish oatcakes! "You say swede and I say turnip" (not 'you' you of course). I feel a song coming on! Whatever, they're sure to bring a warm golden note to your B&W day.

Sara said...

Oh how lovely it would be to see the flash of a woodpecker now! I love looking out at our various multi coloured hens & ducks against the white snow - my little snow jewels :-)

Anonymous said...

elegant Snow Photos,
I appreciate your proper mood.

Anonymous said...

'There is a drawn quality to our landscape...' This is what I remember most vividly from my five years in Yorkshire all that long time ago. Beautifully characterised, Pat. I've never forgotten that nakedness.

Elisabeth said...

Wonderful writing here as ever, Weaver.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love the way you create a scene, especially when it comes to your descriptions of the world beyond your front and back doors.

This is exquisite.

I'm also glad you've broken up the text. I find it so much easier to read on line when there are gaps and more paragraphs than you'd usually allow in print.

Your photographs match your beautiful words. It reminds me of the opening scenes in Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome. A superb book, such a bleak landscape. You've captured the starkness and cold of it brilliantly. And what a relief: that flash of colour from a bird.

Poet in Residence said...

Like you Weaver we in Vienna are still in a monochrome world; grey sky, white snow, black trees. A battle is going on between the Siberian cold and the Adriatic cold.
Thankfully the latter is winning otherwise it'd be -20 instead of a comfortable -2. Brrrr. Where's my hot water bottle?
Nos Da,

Pam said...

I have never seen a woodpecker, but I guess many from overseas have never seen a kookaburra either. Most of the blogging community seem to be surrounded by snow while here "Down Under"we are in the middle of summer, still eating crumpets too, but spread with our much-loved Vegemite most of the time! Thanks for an interesting visit to your part of the world Weaver. Keep warm and safe.

Cloudia said...

"the silent voice of snow" I like that.
You are giving a homey voice to THIS great snow for us, Weaver

Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

dinesh chandra said...

Very cold , Here in Chandigarh is also very clod because the shimla hills cover with snow.



Dinesh Chandra

The Weaver of Grass said...

Here in the UK we are becoming a bit obsessed with the snow I am afraid. Thank you for the comments. Golden West set a cheery note telling us all that Spring is almost here, Willow reminded me of one of my favourite films and how the snow is wonderful in that,and after a bit of confusion over the crumpets I came clean and tell you that they were in fact English muffins. Thank you so much - I will tell you again - it is your comments which make me try harder to get the scene right - there is a moral there for teaching in school isn't there!

BT said...

Weaver, I was smiling as I read your post, it is so beautifully written and your descriptions transport me to your scenery. Lovely.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I love the pictures you have painted here. It is always the sound, or lack of sound, that snow sends down that fascinates me. So very quiet. Unreal.