Frost, and its ways

It is good to have the ground frozen hard after so many weeks of rain. There’s a cold purity to frosty days, which you don’t get with mud and water.
Here in the north you notice the sun more in winter. It no longer hangs passively out of sight, but assaults you at eye level, picking out detail.P1010406

Where the floods have covered the fields and frozen, the ice has caught the bubbles from the exhaling grass. They make their patterns with no one to notice; it is not a gallery,  just a puddle in the fieldsP1010425.

A tree stump which in summer is merely an object on a background of cows, becomes the centrepiece of an Arctic drama: marooned, abandoned by its crew, the pack ice pressing on its timbers.P1010426

In the garden, the horizontal sun spotlights such colour as remains. The winter is not yet deep enough for the blackbirds to resort to the cotoneaster berries, and I’m reminded once more how strange it is that red should be the colour of DecemberP1010412.

The frozen grass, where no mower now goes, reveals a track, where some single-minded creature has carved its route to the fence and the field beyondP1010403. Only the badger, I think, with its limited sight, sticks obsessively to exactly the same path for every journey. Yet there is no hole in the fence large enough for Brock, and no hair caught on the wire. Not so long ago, someone would have set a snare. Now and again on my wanders I still find snares, and destroy them. I have nothing against killing animals for food – but find it hard to forgive the unnecessary cruelty of that choking wire…




22 thoughts on “Frost, and its ways

  1. Beautiful frosty icy images! But Kininvie, deer make trails, and jump. I looked up ‘Brock’ and found a Pokemon character, a professional wrestler, and a kind of grain storage company. Something tells me those aren’t it though… I love that you destroy the cruel traps. (Do you really eat squirrels?)

    • Could be a deer – though it’s a very narrow little track. But I don’t have the impression that our deer – roe deer – make trails the way yours maybe do? But it’s certainly a possibility, and one I hadn’t considered.

      “The old Scots dialect for variegated, especially black and white, is brocked, brockit … from the Old English (ge)broc (same root as broken, through Celtic), Gaelic brocc.” – though Brock as a generic name for the badger seems mostly to have arisen in England – often in childrens’ books. Try ‘brock’ and ‘badger’
      together in Dr Google, and you’ll have a multitude of choices.

      I don’t eat squirrels, although I would if I caught one. They are an increasingly fashionable gourmet delicacy though, with plenty of recipes on the web, e.g.

      • Our deer defiinitely make trails. And now, with the Internet and all, perhaps YOUR deer have learned about that as well. I feel that brocked makes a nice change from variegated–I will try it at the local yarn shop and see how it goes. I do expect one could find recipes for just about anything on the www. (I’m afraid to look.)

  2. Wonderfully atmospheric photos, especially your marooned tree stump. Our cotoneaster berries have all gone now and we are nowhere near as cold as you, I think we just have very greedy blackbirds! I’m also puzzled by your track towards the fence, surely it would be wider for a badger and a deer would leave seperate footprints. You’re in Scotland so how about a pine marten or wild cat !!!

  3. Beautiful photos! You have caught the frost`s “soul”. It`s not so different from our frosty landscape just now, at 80 km`s nort of the Artic cirkle.

  4. The sun is more noticeable here in the Midlands as well, certainly on my way to work in the morning. We havent had a really hard frost yet so it is nice to see your frosty phots – it looks so pure and fresh

  5. Very nice pictures of ice and frost, I enjoyed in particular the bubble trapped under ice and the stump forgotten by the cows, along with your descriptions.
    I am so glad to know you pick those snares, why people is so cruel and stupid to set them?!
    I found ice in a bucket yesterday morning for the first time. Winter is coming here too…

  6. We had the ice for a day or two, now we’re back to soggy. Not sure which I prefer, whilst the ice gallery is pretty, we don’t see that too often here. I do miss a good hard frost, cleanses the soul. I wonder if you’ll ever spy your mystery wanderer? I’m with you on the trapping, if it’s not for food by be so cruel, unless of course it’s slugs, which despite gourmet writings, I don’t eat, despite hunting them. Lovely photos…….

  7. Kininvie, frost is fairly having its way in our garden at the moment, our plot lies very low almost a hollow, which means the sun is not to be seen at all for two months of the year and a walk less than 300 yards from our house reveals a frost free landscape. Pictures you show us are indeed very atmospheric and as far as the snares go, I am fully with you.

    • Luckily, I think the habit of using snares is slowly dying out, perhaps because few people are now growing up with the thought that you can get food for free in the wild.

  8. Beautiful post! I just discovered your blog and am so glad I did. 🙂 My dogs make a similar track that’s very visible in the winter. Your property is amazing to me. It’s so vast. My neighbors are so close I can hear their phones ring. I’m so glad you pull up those snares. Cruel things, they are!

  9. Found your lovely blog through The Scottish Country Garden. Love it! Your photos are beautiful and I really enjoyed seeing this post on the frozen landscape, it’s exactly what we have now. Pop over and visit me when you have some time. Following you now. Sandi

  10. Could it be an otter run?? You have a stream near don’t you?! How exciting if it is!
    Also-thank you for the Philadelphus blog…although I may have taken you dear Uncle Hamish’s advice somewhat literally and killed the darn thing (probably not helped by me leaving it a little late too)! I may have got a bit too ambitious….it’s basically now a few stumpy bits (max height 60cm or so…..oh well – Spring awaits!

    • Saadia – I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s certainly a possibility. Right size, right kind of weightiness. It’s more likely to be a mink though. That said, we do get the occasional otter. One summer, several years ago, we had a family, and you could hear them whistling at each other. It was lovely

    • Oh – and the philadelphus…I don’t think you will have killed it. If you have a really severe late frost, that might not do it any good, but they are tough creatures and survive most things. If you want to encourage it back into happy growth in Spring, a little fertiliser round the roots would help

      • Great! I hope so! I did it in late October and I have applied a good mulch of quality manure and new compost so hopefully it’s just in a mood with me and not packed it in!
        I hope you have got an otter! They’re creatures of habit, as you will know from having the pleasure of their company, so keep checking the same spots! I guess if it’s mink then come April they’ll be having little noisy kits! Cute! (And somewhat deadly and viscious-but mostly cute!) xx

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