January 17, 2022

There is something indefinable about the winter. Everybody says “oh what terrible weather we are having” really? Why is it bad? What is bad about it? Supposedly cold wet and miserable I find Winter is anything but. The position of the earth already gives winter a massive bonus over summer with the position of the sun being so low in the sky it has that magical warm light. Along with this, there is the modelling aspect to it where the angle starts to pick out details that we would normally miss. That and the fact that dawn is around 8 am not 3.30 am.


A rain-lashed landscape with huge grey curtains of falling water is, perhaps nobodies’ favourite idea of a nice day but storm fronts move over the countryside swiftly and the dark ominous stormy skies can be a nice but cliched backdrop to a sunny sky. The church spire highlighted against the storm clouds is just one. With a little more originality this can play into our hands to give us some stunning effects.


The rivers fill and the land floods. So, we can’t walk quite where we wanted to or perhaps our boots get stuck in deep mud. But nobody else wants to go out and if we do venture out into this changed world it is ours. Once busy areas become quiet and the solitude that most of us want to work in descends, leaving clear shots with no one in them. Suddenly everywhere seems to be full of wading birds and with no dogs chasing them they sit and allow us to get images of them far more easily.


Monotone grey clouds drift overhead. This massive softbox that makes everybody’s mood sink is brilliant for woodlands. But the skies can be far more dramatic during the winter. Heavy black storm clouds that threaten and don’t deliver. They hang low over the landscape. At times the low sun peeps through at the end of the day setting the sky alight in colour. The alternative to this is the wispy mares’ tails on a bright evening picking up the dying embers of the sun


As the sun sets on this clear sky it goes from a subtle red/orange glow to a deep royal blue and the first stars start to pick their way out into the darkening sky. Familiar constellations appear. And, as it gets darker more stars become apparent, and I wish for the lights to be turned off so I can see the night sky as I did when I was a child. Over to one side, there is the faintest clipping of the moon as it rises early in the lunar cycle. A paring just visible in the failing light. This will change, as everything does and on a clear winter night, the full moon casts its eerie ethereal glow over the landscape. It feels cold because of the colour of the light. A contrast against the warmth of the sun from earlier.


The wind blows across the fields, an empty wind that whistles and groans mournfully as it moves through the trees, hedges, and fences. While the surface of the river is whipped up into little wavelets complete with foam. The driven water splashes noisily against the bank and where the water comes to rest on the vegetation it starts to freeze creating strange shapes. Exposed skin feels the icy blast, the landscape feels lost and forlorn. The grey sky scuds overhead the world is empty. The wind has taken everything away.


Trees stand naked, their branches like withered hands pointing upwards and outwards they have stunted movements with a desolate rattle in the gathering breeze. Leaves long fallen are slowly decomposing. Soon, just the skeleton of the leaf will remain to be further ground down as they roll and tumble about. Berries hang on hedgerows twitching as they are caught then spring back their stems offering little or no movement little red orbs ready for birds to come and eat.


The hedge divides the field. Both with the bulk of branches but also with the dip at the base which has filled up with water. This subsequently freezes creating an icy tomb for the base of the hedge. Trapping whatever is there for the duration. Not that this happens much now. Over the past few years, there have been fewer frosts and nowhere near as hard as they once were. This is not a case of things were better, “ey, when I were a lad frosts, were frosts” no these are warmer days and the frosts, snow and Hoare frosts are more of a distant memory. A missed memory I have to say.

Winter is beguiling, it tries to keep people out but has such natural understated beauty that once people see it and enjoy it they become fans. Fans of the weather, rain, wind with an empty stark and desolate landscape. It is a blank canvas for people to write on and exalt in and make images from that have more character than summer.

I would say put a coat on come and see what you are missing but I’m not. This is my time of year. No parties on the riverbanks just me and the countryside.


Thank you so much for reading this. If you have any thoughts about winter, please comment below. Alternatively, you can visit my Instagram by clicking HERE. Best of all you could follow either this blog or the feed. Both would be highly appreciated

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