Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I know, I know. But Christmas would not be Christmas without a few slightly sentimental snow pictures. Although of course usually we have to import these from Norway, since even up here in the North-East of Scotland snow is oddly rare in December. (The usual pattern is one fall in November, one in January, and then a big Easter surprise. Only thirty years ago people would be snowed in for three months every winter without fail, so there's a little piece of local climate chance for you.)
It is not quite deep, but crisp and even and just enough to look pretty without disrupting too much traffic, although the famous Cockbridge to Tomintoul road is closed, as is traditional the moment there is even a hint of weather.
So here are some snaps for you. I send them with especial love to my friends in California, whom I know occasionally miss the great British winter.
An enchanting little Christmas tree:
The beech hedge:
The exceptionally festive rosehips:
The dogs eating the snow as if it were ice-cream:
And then, just as I thought it could not get any better, I heard a distant noise, coming from the north west. It grew louder and louder and I looked up to see the sky filled with geese. They were flying incredibly fast, singing as they went, heading due south, their skeins stretched out like scribbles on the white sky. I wanted to give them a round of applause.
I'm sorry they are rotten pictures, but I wanted to give you a sense of what the incredible creatures looked like. It is such an extraordinary sight that it is almost impossible to describe in words. What amazes me about them is how certain they are; there is a tremendous sense of purpose to the whole thing, as if there is some vital deadline to meet. I love the way the configuration shifts constantly, as if someone has given an order. I want to know who decides who the chief navigator will be, what criterion dictates who takes the lead. I want to know how they can skate along so quickly, when they have miles and miles to go before they sleep. I want to know what it is about them that gives me a purely childlike sense of wanting to jump and clap.