After a frankly shameful amount of media hype about the weather during the last few days, it looks like Britain has miraculously survived a devastating onslaught of lightly frosted water. When weather centres start to issue “mega-warnings” about snow, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and imagine that something really unusual is going to happen. In actual fact, it’s simply a rotating sequence of things called “seasons” which sometimes makes things cold. I’m no expert, but I understand that there is a similar explanation for why it sometimes gets all nice and warm.
We’re told that extreme cold is a cause for “concern”, and the weather forecaster on a local radio station told me that Galloway would “thankfully be free from the worst of the snow”. Phew, what a relief. For some people, snow seems to come as an unexpected outrage every year. There’s almost an arrogance which refuses to accept that sometimes there are circumstances out of your control. As a nation, we like wildlife and the natural world, but we indulge our interest entirely on our own terms. It’s nice to visit the woods on a Saturday afternoon to see the bluetits and kick the beech leaves around, but God help mother nature if she delays the 16:04 to Telford.
Perhaps it’s just sour grapes because the Galloway hills are still wretchedly cowering under the same snow which has lain on the ground for five days. It’s no longer light or interesting, and it doesn’t creak mysteriously as you walk on it. After an entire week of sub-zero temperatures, the snow is like frozen froth. It crunches loudly underfoot and leaves shattered imprints where your feet have been. There is none of the accomodating detail of tracks left in a fresh fall of snow, and everything from sheep to hares smash up the nasty rime like a brick through a pane of glass. We were promised a monstrous fall of snow, but so far the best the sky has been able to manage is a series of very fine flurries which you could be forgiven for missing altogether.
Instead of the snow, it has been appallingly cold. For the first time in eleven months, the foxes are hungry enough to be visiting the midden in the hope of finding some scrap of food. Usually they are too cautious and give the small enclosure a wide berth, but I did notice that one had been in and dug up the remains of a breasted pheasant. All the snares are now set and ready, but if there is anything more to be had in that sunken, covered hole, the ravens and buzzards will have picked it all clean by now.