Sunday, 28 November 2010
The sun swam up from the bottom of the sky and winked.
Winter has looked in on us these past few days. It has been snowing since Wednesday.
First there were big, slow, feather-like snowflakes, then hail, then the small fast snowflakes that once gave me a fright as a child. Sitting in the passenger seat of the car, I watched them coming towards us as we passed under streetlights on the way to my grandparents' house one evening. In some half dreamy state they looked to me like the clawed, bewitching hands of a malevolent, frosty man. Once seen, it was impossible to unsee, and I still think of it on nights when flurries run past a light too quickly.
Still, I love snow and ice and the weird and lovely tricks they play on the landscape. I grew up in a place that could be radically altered in a short time when the weather picked up. One winter I had a small ice palace to myself, made on the surface of a lake when bitter winds threw the waves up high and froze them one on top of another before they fell, leaving a long wall standing on the frozen lake, about a kilometre from the shore. If you walked for a while on the wall, before long you would find little round rooms at your feet and you could sometimes crawl in through a hole in the ceiling and enter them. Then you could sit in the calm, round coldness of the place and listen to the wind roar overhead, waiting to see if some marvel would appear. If you had your skates you could try your luck on the bumpy lake ice on the way home. But if you weren't able to roam about on icy lakes, similar places could be built in the yard of snow.
For all the beauty of winter, it is an eerie time I think. The snowy sky that is white and luminescent in the middle of the night, while some days never seems to lighten up at all, especially here in Scotland. The times when things fall so silent that you can hear the snow falling, or when a blizzard is thick enough that you can't see your own hands in front of you. The strange feeling when you look around you and realize the world has turned odd and blue and spirited, that the sun has set faster than expected and you have unwittingly entered a wonderland not meant for you.
Last night, just after midnight, there were three weirdly bright flashes of lightning, punctuated by two rumbles of thunder, and then nothing. I didn't think it ever stormed in that way in winter, but the season has so many oddities, who knows.
Oh, but now I think it's time for the tall night to sit on my eyelids, while the trees dance their roots across the sky at the window. Time for dreaming.