Sunday, January 17, 2010

35 Snow song and the snow Robin
Wednesday January 13, 2010:

For a month now, a Siberian wind Marauds across the land. From time to time, it loses interest and sends a wet westerly instead. Rain falls as snow blanketing the city. With every new fall, the world is shrouded again in silence. Each settles on the half melted fall before. As night comes, it freezes into a lethal glacial icing, defiantly loosening the step of even the steadiest gait.

I lurk indoors, snarling and growling. The local Council has more or less cleared the bus routes, but there is no way to get to the bus stop, so thick and treacherous has the ice become. I am imprisoned. Twice, hope rises along with the temperature and a fall of snow-obliterating rain, only to be dashed again as the silent softness once more descends.

I am grateful therefore for my garden. Each day, I listen to the silence. Snow clogged roads mean that there are very few cars. People stay indoors, unless forced to go out to work, to get supplies or occasionally to play.

I walk carefully around the garden, meeting the snow cautiously with my boots. As I walk, I listen to its various voices as it speaks beneath my feet.

“Hah” sighs the newly fallen snow, breathing softly as it submits to my weight. Here is the loving snow flake fallen to earth to become a gentle carpet.

“Err-eek”, squeaks the frost rhinded snow as I move. At first it is unyielding and I think for a moment it might even hold my weight until protestingly, it subsides like the shell of a meringue, crunching dryly as it caves in.

“Crick-crack” snaps the ice-shaded globules of frozen hard snow, chattering beneath me as I step cautiously. I hear it splinter and imagine bright rainbow shards scattering before me.

“Slurp-squelch” sucks the slush greedily. It slides away guiltily, pushing out from under my feet to leave my footprints smeared, blurred and distended as though the abominable snowman himself has passed this way.

But silent is the black ice as it whips my feet from under me. Frantically, I wave my arms in a semaphore of falling as the treacherous smoothness topples me.

The snow is cradled by the shrubs. They bend under their Burdon. It lies frothily across the leaves of the evergreens. Starkly it outlines the twigs and branches like white knobby bones. The paths are obstructed by the stooping hunched bushes. I squeeze past, and as I move, the plants gratefully give up their Burdon as though it were a gift and I, their carefully chosen recipient.

Surreptitiously they drop gobbets of snow into my pockets. Tenderly, they let fall soft cold icy kisses of snow down the back of my neck. They even bend and reach for the warm inside of my boots and dribble their offerings coolly down into my socks. In silence they proffer and deliver their gifts and I feel winter against my warm skin. I shiver but am also glad to be reminded of the season for a cosy gas fire is only moments away.

The birds cluster about the squirrel-proof feeder and chatter. Above in the snow-filled sky, crows caw and their cousins the magpies rattle. High in the ash tree, the robin sings out his merry song. I imagine him, red-breasted against the white snow incrusted branches; beak opened every bid like the image on the traditional Christmas card. He sings out in the quiet winter air and I know he knows he is beautiful.

I turn towards him, wrapped in the song. Confined to barracks I might be, but at least I have the garden and the birds and especially that lovely cheerful singing robin. It is a week past Twelfth night. Yet I cannot bear to take down my Christmas tree. Somehow, until the snow goes, it doesn’t feel right.

Other snow watchers tell me that the snow reveals who has been in the garden. I imagine the snow is scattered with bird prints, dark against the pale like a carefully printed fabric. Amongst them the larger paws of the cat, squirrel and even perhaps the fox may be seen. As delicate as a pen and ink drawing, the black on white is over washed in blue, green, purple, rosy pink and warm orange under the icy white as the changing light of the day effects it.

I reach down to touch my garden alter. It is domed in soft snow, shielded and shelled by ice. I plunge warm fingers in and feel the snow submit then slide away as my body temperature melts it. Hiding underneath, the things on my alter are stuck fast to the log with the fierce grip of the ice.

I bow to the singing robin, stroke a snow edged branch of the rowan tree and make my way carefully indoors. I long for the snow to go so I may be free. yet, this confinement, and this standstill just as the year has turned, this contemplation of the possibility that the light is returning, has allowed me to go within myself, a place I’m still not quite ready to emerge from.

“Thank you Holder, snow queen of the white days,” I whisper as I close the garden door.


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