Terry O'Connor

Home » Landscapes » What happened to spring?

What happened to spring?


This is a long winter. We seemed to slide into it in October, as the last resistance of Autumn finally gave way to rain, wind and shorter days. Now here we are in March, with the equinox approaching, and 10cm of snow blanketing a garden that had been showing signs of life. Presumably the early crocus and narcissus are under there somewhere, the hellebore flowers will survive their untimely chill and the frogs will replace spawn that is undoubtedly dead by now. It would be easy to despair, but better to make the most of it. Last night’s fall of soft snow, blown around in the north-easterly wind, has lodged itself on branches, mounded on hedges and field walls, and recoloured the countryside in black-and-white.

23rd March 2013 Burley-in-Wharfedale

23rd March 2013 Burley-in-Wharfedale

Maybe we have to get used to this, as increasingly frequent Polar Continental airstreams bring the Big Chill to our familiar soggy winters. Apart from its scenic value, late winter snow has the advantage that it creates the possibility of a rapid spring, a season that is deep in snow one week becoming warm and green the next. Real seasons would be a welcome change to the Uk climate. A day that is overcast, around 10 degrees C and raining gently could occur in almost any month of the year. And does. A shift to cold winters with snow, balanced by decent summers, would be quite welcome.

Washburn Valley, Yorkshire, on a bright winter day

Washburn Valley, Yorkshire, on a bright winter day

Bright, clear winter’s days bring their own solace when the season is inclined to be overcast and grey. Low sun on bare trees picks out details of the landscape in a away that summer sun does not. And reflections in lakes and ponds seem to be clearer when the water is very cold than they are in summer. Maybe that’s just a false impression? Either way, winter has its attractions, at least when fresh, thick snow coats the land, or when a blue sky compensates for the chill by unexpected illumination effects. It’s just a pity that the rest of the days are cold, overcast and raining.


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