The week started with the excitement of possible snow and there was a skiff of snow on the lane the last two days with heavy snow clouds in the distance over the mountains and closer, the sharp accentuation of colours on the hills. Today it has changed. The bright green fields are back – with a cold wind. The snow has been moved back to the mountains.The Irish for sleet is flichshneachta and to me it is much more atmospheric than the English. The word sleet emphasises the wetness but the Irish highlights another, more ephemeral quality. A skiff is a word well used in Scotland and Northern Ireland and it describes everything there is to say about a light snowfall. The world is so much more interesting when words from different languages can meld together to explain and describe – at least I think so.

Lesser Celandine have begun to flower over the last few days along the earthen banks on the lane, keeping their petals protected as much as they can from the snow. A marker that Spring is coming – at some point. The snowdrops that began to flower up at the old mill just before New Year are now spreading and drifting through the woodland area, to the mill stream, their stems and petals impervious to the cold and ice.

The lane looks green and I realise that is because many of the trees are clothed in ivy so that it is only the longer and higher branches that are left bare and wintry.


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