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Real Snow

I have been so pleased with the weather for the past few days. It has provided me with real amounts of snow, perhaps four inches, and it hasn't since warmed up so much so as to destroy the beauty and insulation of it. It's the best snow I've ever seen in England.

In the forest yesterday, I made a snow angel in the local bronze age camp under near-blue skies. The bare branches towering cathedral-like above were limned in snow. It picked out each branch and limb of every tree and bush with a precision and clarity which the motley camouflage browns and greens of it never approach on their own.

Today, at Kew Gardens, the whitened grounds were largely empty. I had the entire length of grand walks to myself, and, often enough, the warmth of the larger greenhouses as well. It was soothing to stand in the midst of the Temperate House, alone, small beside the vastness of the Chilean wine palm, while outside, it started to flake for a bit. In one capacious greenhouse room, I was disturbed only by a single large bird tramping up and down the ridge on the roof high above me. At the east end of the park, a carousel pumped out a chirpy, uptempo, music-only cover of The Beatles' "Yesterday". I couldn't find the Winter Garden, presumably because it was not designed to be snowed on.

Are children trained to talk to robins in this country? An alert boy noticed a British robin hopping about the floor of the house imported from Japan that we were all in. "Happy Christmas, Robin!" or "Happy New Year, Robin!" exclaimed the three or four children, each in turn.



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 20th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
I've never heard of talking to robins specifically, although it's considered good luck to greet magpies.

Several years back, I was visiting some colleagues in Berkeley, and I showed them some photographs I had on my computer. One of them featured a robin, a cheerful, round little bird sat on a fence post. "What's that?" they asked. "It's a robin," I replied. "I don't think it is," they said. "Erm... I'm pretty sure it is," I asserted. So we had a little look round on the internet and it turns out that we were both right: the American robin is a different species of bird entirely to the European robin, although both have distinctive orange plumage.

(Are you and Colin going to be in Lancashire at some point over Christmas, and if so would you like to meet up for lunch?)
Dec. 21st, 2010 10:41 am (UTC)
Yes, they are entirely different birds! The European robin is the cuter of the two. (Not that it was a competition.)

(Yes, and yes!)
Dec. 20th, 2010 11:51 pm (UTC)
That's so...John Masefield!
Dec. 21st, 2010 08:43 pm (UTC)
I had to look him up. I'm pretty sure this is a really marvelous compliment.
Dec. 20th, 2010 11:53 pm (UTC)
I've always said hello to robins, but I don't think anyone trained me to. It's just that they look so cheering, one can hardly help oneself.

Kew sounds fabulous in the snow. It was about as deep as it is now back in January '87, but not since, to the best of my recall. There was one day in the early nineties we had to close school (in Hampton, Mddx) early because of snow, too.
Dec. 21st, 2010 12:49 am (UTC)
I'd be enjoying the snow a lot more if it weren't for the fact that lot out at Heathrow are a bunch of rank amateurs. :-P I'm supposed to be flying to see my family on Wednesday, and at the moment I've a horrible premonition my flight will be among the cancelled (its Tuesday analogue is cancelled, certainly)

(I can just about cope with the fact that nearly everyone else here is also a bunch of rank amateurs when it comes to dealing with snow... I just feel amusedly superior about it...or something like that ;-) But i've not seen my family in over a year :-( )
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 21st, 2010 01:57 pm (UTC)
Me too!
Dec. 21st, 2010 08:08 am (UTC)
we left our letters to father christmas in the bush outside for the robin to take to him.
Dec. 21st, 2010 11:09 am (UTC)
I misread your sentence as:

In the forest yesterday, I [met] a snow angel in the local bronze age camp under near-blue skies.

Suffice it to say, I was preparing myself for a different kind of post. That sounds like an awesome intro to a bit of fiction! :)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )