A dusting of snow and a skein of geese: field notes from the garden 25.11.17

A light dusting of overnight snow dresses the garden in half-hearted fashion: enough to be labelled as snowfall, but too little to silence the world in the way that a serious deluge manages so wonderfully to do.


Some parts of the garden are dusted with white; others appear just as normal.  The flowerpots are all adorned with a white circle, whilst the ground beneath it is clear: the effect is like some obscure candleholder, with a pool of melted wax at its base.

The sky is dim, grey, and feels markedly closer to the ground.  It feels enveloping, almost blanketing the world today, as opposed to the infinite vista of space it usually is.  There is a foreboding feeling that this is the day’s allocated strength of daylight: this is it, no brighter, no less.

Against this grey backdrop, the sky feels strangely industrious.  A solitary gull circles overhead, is gone, and then appears above me continuously.  It could be a number of different gulls, but somehow it feels familiar; roving, searching, sensing its way through the cold November air.

A young blue tit – I like to imagine it’s the same bullish chap from last weekend – lands on the lilac bush and enjoys a stay of less than a second, before flitting off to a neighbouring fencepost.  A sparrow and a blackbird appear to be engaged in a territorial battle for the bird feeders on the pieris by my shed: surprisingly, the smaller one seems to be winning.

An encroaching honking sound suddenly gets louder; a sound that always turns my head to the sky, as I wait and then see the skein of geese appearing overhead, flying in perfect v-shaped unison as they disappear over the chimneys and back out of view.

The snapdragon on the garden wall, rescued from a garden centre’s reduced table at the end of summer, has been an ongoing symbol of defiance, clinging on to life as autumn bleeds slowly into winter.  With the new context of white show around it, the delicate yellow petals take on a completely new appearance, appearing now as a defiant beacon of birth, renewal and hope.

I wonder how sorry it will look once the snow has melted into a cold, colourless dampness.



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