Wednesday, March 04, 2009

the snow it melts the soonest







When the winds begin to sing. Or in our case when they don't quite make it as far as our town in the first place. While the rest of the country became covered with the deepest layer of snow for about a decade the coastal towns remained immune to the touch of it. On top of the hill facing north east on the only patch of local snow available, I could look towards the north and see all the distant hills covered with the stuff. When I went to work in town on the bus the snowy landscape started just the other side of the hill at Newton Pop and could be seen from the window all the way into town. Some friends were snowed in for about four days, a long time in this country. Okehampton had about twelve inches, an unheard of amount.

One of the good things about our country is that we are always unprepared for anything as unusual as snow and the whole place quickly falls apart, travelling is impossible and anyone with any sense gives up and makes an impromptu holiday of the occasion and enjoys a rare chance to play in the snow. Our local children had to make do with snow scraped from cars that had come in from the surrounding countryside to use for snowballs, which would have been a sad sight if it wasn't for them enjoying it so much.

Snows They Melt The Soonest is a lovely old traditional song that I know from the work of Dick Gaughan and puts pay to the lie that working class people weren't capable of a proper emotional life of the sort that the moneyed classes enjoyed. Dick Gaughan has a beautiful voice and his interpretations are well worth a listen, I especially like his version of Erin go Bragh from the album "Handful Of Earth". He is also a writer and has an interesting history of the UK in the 80s which is not quite the official version that we usually get.

http://www.dickgaughan.co.uk/index.html

20 comments:

nobody said...

And then Spring! Yay!

Just a thought - Does snow never seem to kill plants? They always seem deliriously green in spite of being covered in snow and ice.

Skye said...

Once again your pictures have brought images of magical beings to my mind! Not only that, but it makes me jealous that I can't see it in person :) Oh, I'll get sights like that soon enough I'm sure, it's only a matter of weeks before the snow starts to melt permanently around here. It just seems to take so incredibly long!

john said...

Cheers Nobody

All the plants in the woods are hardy so are ok with the cold but if you leave the wrong plant outside at night in winter here the frost will quickly kill it if not the snow. We had snow again in the area last night, a good few inches in Crediton and all the usual fun of school closures and stranded motorists. We have a small amount of flowers coming out now and the first ones are always a welcome sight. First Snowdrops, then Primroses then Daffodils, Bluebells, Foxgloves and probably others that I have missed, I'm not an expert though I have been catching up on a bit of permaculture and forest gardening stuff recently, it looks like a good way to go. Have you got any proper sun your way yet?

Cheers Skye

I was up on the hill today and the empty ground in the woods is now covered with a thin green layer of bluebells throughout, planted so exactly, and the snow that was left up there looked as if it had been distributed randomly around the place from a bucket. I saw some of the first daffodils today and a couple of deer which I didn't manage to photograph despite having my camera on. I should think Spring is quite something after the winters that you have where you are. Soon!

Cheers for now.

nobody said...

And crocuses! I just now remembered growing crocuses when I was a kid in Salisbury. It's weird. I'd forgotten that. I remember the daffodils growing back too. The snow killed them (kind of thing) and then they grew back.

john said...

Yes crocuses! how did I forget them? They are out but I haven't seen any yet, maybe today. Your memory does seem very good. Salisbury must have been a nice place to be, I grew up not that far away on the coast so know the town a bit from old days, lots of interesting countryside, Stonehenge and the cathedral with the wonky steeple as painted by Turner (the steeple, not the wonk) the highest in England I think. Not that far away from Winchester which also has a good cathedral.

Skye said...

Last summer I collected Wood Violet seeds from plants that were growing wild up at Silver's. I planted them on the north side of my house along with some Ferns, Lily of the Valley and Anemonies that I had transplanted. I do hope that they come up this year and bloom for me!

I probably should get other types of plants as well seeing as most everything I have are spring bloomers. But I'll admit that I have such a wide variety of Lily's that I do have blooms of various types throughout the summer, not to mention the Geraniums, Crysanthemums, Bleeding Hearts, African Marigolds, Poppies and Bachelor Buttons that bloom constantly. Granted those last 3 aren't perennials, but they do reseed themselves from year to year.

I also plan on putting in some Miniature Sunflowers this year, both in the garden and potted out front. I think having some pots of the Marigolds and Sunflowers will be a pretty cool addition to my Halloween decorations come October...lol. I know, I know, silly me, but I'm already thinking of that! :D

The beautiful part of all these plants is the fact that it turns a boring small yard in town into a place of relaxation and tranquility. That is, of course, if you can ignore the noises and hustle and bustle of town life.

I do believe that I'll have to take some pictures of my little get-away backyard this summer, hopefully things will look as lovely as I anticipate them to look!

john said...

Cheers Skye

That sounds like a good selection of plants and flowers, you seem to like lilys a lot then? Town gardens are a good one for bringing the natural connection back home. We live in quite a noisy place here but we do have a small garden which we try to get the most we can into and the noise can be ignored in this little oasis. The missus is the expert gardener here and we have lots of 'heated debates' about the siting of stuff so some of my parts of the garden have this tendency to decrease in size magically overnight. We haven't been here that long so the garden is very much a work in progress. We are trying to grow more edible stuff this year and with fruit trees on the go now are hoping for a more productive plot. Look forward to seeing your garden photo's.

Skye said...

I do love Lily's, John, Irises as well. The vast majority of my plants, including 90% of the Lily's and all the Irises are from my grandfather. He's gone now, and that makes the flower's he's given me, all that more special.

I have to admit, that I would much rather have flowers that I can plant in my garden as a gift as opposed to cut arrangements for in the house. Silv understands this and so has given me a few plants as well. I've given him a few as well (Hens 'n' Chicks), but they don't seem to want to survive up at his place. Doesn't help that the deer keep eating them during the winter I suppose :D

Anyway, I'm not the greatest photographer, so no promises of any great photo's, but I'll do what I can!

john said...

It's nice to have plants that remind us of the people who gave them to us. I had a cactus which had been given to me by a friend long gone now and it always seemed odd that the plant that he gave me was still here when he wasn't. I had to repot it a few years down the line and of course when I lifted the cactus out I found the stones in the bottom of the pot and realised that the last person who saw and touched this little handful of stones was my friend who had put them in there years before. We were all very upset and shocked when he had died but he came to the missus in a dream not that long after, he was barefoot and smiling.

Skye said...

That must have been very special for the Missus!

As for you, transplanting the cactii and having that realization hit you full in the face for you, well that must have been hard. Hugs man, I'm sure you can think back on it with somewhat fond memories, but sometimes hugs are still in order. Seems to me this may just be one of those times!

(((((((hugs)))))))

john said...

Thanks Skye

Yes, she tells me the dream happened a couple of days after. It was quite a long time ago now but these memories come up, as they do. People come and go allright but we had a lot of good times and have a lot of good memories of the fellow and with some people it is a privilege to know them, even if it is for a short time. Oh well, onwards and upwards and out into the fog again! Wheee! Cheers for now.

Skye said...

Cheers John!

my confirm word is "herbs" seems to be a good one for a post about plants :)

john said...

I just got devic as a verification word.

Im dictating here for the missus as she has a bad back; I have Violets as well. Nasturtiums are good as you can eat the flowers and leaves and pickle the seeds as they're like capers and they're really cheery and with smiley faces. And hellabores as they cross pollinate freely and you end up with all sorts of different colours. Mad like science fiction like flowers, Lenten Rose is the common name here. Nice to talk gardens. Cheers Skye

the Silverfish said...

ere in Manitoba our provincial flower is the Crocus. Not the candy assed domestic crocus that really have no character but the wild ones that are so full of color and fragrance .

The wonderful thing about the native crocus is that they only grow in untilled soil like that of my valley. Wherever one sees Crocuses growing wild here one can be certain that the soil has never felt the blade of a plough. The sad thing is that they cannot be transplanted, for then it seems the spirit is broken and they wither and die. So I have none of them in my yard rock garden, but who cares when I have several thousand acres of them to enjoy in spring just a mere stones throw from my house in the greatest private rock garden that I have ever seen, My valley.

Soon they will bloom, just to tell me that yes I have survived another Canadian winter and also perhaps to remind me in a gentle way to go back to the land Chum, go back to the land, life is good without a plough and one needn’t destroy in order to create. .

john said...

Cheers Silverfish

It's interesting that the Crocuses cannot be transplanted.

I have belatedly been looking into Permaculture and a friend recommended to me a recent bbc programme called "A Farm for the Future" which I watched on the beebs website (though its gone now)and it did turn out to be very interesting. I expect that a lot of other people already know about this stuff but it was news to me.

One of the points made was that ploughing has been the wrong thing to do all this time and that the land here in the UK wants to turn back into forest so why not work with it rather than against it. It went on to show some beautiful and productive small scale agro-forestry in Wales and also in Devon, many different plants, shrubs etc. all mixed in together with young trees. Farming on lots of different levels. It looked like a very good option for future food production, small scale plots of land - just two or three acres really, producing enough food for a family with some spare. I should think this being on the tv here woke a lot of people up in this country and in a good way too.

Tis a pity I was always too much of a povvy bastard to scrape me own piece o' land together but 'opefully in time a lot o' the land 'ere will go back to its rightful owners.

Shit, when I write it down I sound like a bloody pirate, sorry folks!

Cheers for now Silverfish and thanks.

word verification "phebe"

nobody said...

Hey John, just quickly, Skye has a thing about devil's footprints in the snow in Devon. She was saying surely they're deer. Are there deer in Devon? You'd be the fellow who'd know I'm thinking. That's your neck of the woods ain't it?

john said...

Cheers Nobody

Yes we have plenty of deer in Devon, I saw a pair in the woods last week. Country people here should be familiar with deer tracks but the townies less so, I will pop over to Skyes and take a look at the story. Some people here are quite superstitious but then a lot of strange things do happen. I have heard many a strange story over the years from people who have no reason to make things up and have seen a few pretty odd things myself.

An old tale from Devon as nicked from shittypedia for you.

On the night of 8-9 February 1855 and one or two later nights, after a light snowfall, a series of hoof-like marks appeared in the snow. These footprints, measuring 1.5 to 2.5 inches wide and eight inches apart, continued throughout the countryside for a total of over 100 miles, and, although veering at various points, for the greater part of their course followed straight lines.Houses, rivers, haystacks and other obstacles were travelled straight over, and footprints appeared on the tops of snow-covered roofs and high walls which lay in the footprints' path, as well as leading up to and exiting various drain pipes of as small as a four inch diameter.

The area in which the prints appeared extended from Exmouth, up to Topsham, and across the river Exe to Dawlish and Teignmouth. R.H. Busk, in an article published in Notes and Queries decades later, stated that footprints also appeared further afield, as far south as Totnes and Torquay, and that there were other reports of the prints further afield in Weymouth (Dorset) and even Lincolnshire. In each case, the prints would go on for miles and miles before abruptly stopping.

There were also attendant rumours about sightings of a "devil-like figure" in the Devon area during the scare. Many townspeople armed themselves and attempted to track down the beast responsible, without success.

Thats the old story anyway. Also for years people laughed about the big cat sightings around the country but the sightings continue and the tracks do turn up.

john said...

Oh! I forgot to mention Spring Heeled Jack as well, he was a good'n!

word verification; legion, which failed, now I get unnatria

nobody said...

Oh no! It's the devil!

Hmm... perhaps there's some pan-cultural appeal to these stories? I'm thinking the yeti, bigfoot, and Australia's own 'yowie' (no really). Actually our perennial is that of the Tasmanian Tiger. Theoretically it's extinct but we're constantly regaled with stories of tracks, bones, droppings etc.

The only other option is that these mysterious creatures (supernatural or otherwise) are real and widespread. I wouldn't dismiss it utterly.

Mind you, I'd still put my money on some other more mundane explanation.

Oh. And what would happen if you shot a deer? You know, took him home and et him, kind of thing? Or are they protected?

john said...

Shooting deer and taking them home to eat is illegal here though chasing them with a pack of hounds which is supposed to be illegal does still happen by "accident" and happens quite a bit, same with foxes. Can't say I care for the business myself and personally I think the hunt are a bunch of tossers (this will make me popular locally)

The legal stuff is a bit complicated and emotions run high on both sides. Hundreds of hours were spent debating hunting in Parliament and we still end up with a botched law and TCB saying that he isn't so sure about banning fox hunting because he might be sitting down and eating dinner with these people. It went from the house of commons to the house of lords and back and forth. The Iraq war wasn't debated at all which goes to show you where our priorities lie.

The royals hunt and shoot. In the south west here the hunt have pursued deer through peoples gardens, onto roofs, into a playground and then killed in front of children, all sorts. They have killed peoples pets, it goes on and on.

I have no beef with people hunting to eat but hunting for pleasure I find revolting. Another country friend tells me that hunting gives the hunters a stiffy, so good for them. They also blood the children which is nice. The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable.

Roadkill can be taken home to eat I think but only if somebody else has killed it, complicated? confusing? that will be english law which of course is blind justice and has nothing to do with who you are, how rich you are, who your friends are etc.

The Queen still owns all the swans and we are not allowed to eat or kill them though very occaisionally they do turn up on the menu, but not for long.