It’s January. We are having a very cold spell here in Dunbar, with temperatures not rising above 3 degrees all day. OK – this may be a mild winter for some of you, but it’s counted as cold here. In Scots, the word cauld (pr called) is used for cold and there’s a take-off of the biblical saying “Many are called, but few are chosen” (the equivalent of Private Fraser’s “Wur doomed”). The take-off is “Many are cauld, but few are frozen”. January is also the month when the first snowdrops appear and I paid my annual trip to Pitcox House which is about 4 miles up country from Dunbar. This is traditionally where people first see snowdrops. As in previous years, I urge you to find Alice Oswald’s poem Snowdrop from her collection Weeds and Wild Flowers (with superb etchings by Jessica Greenman). Oswald describes the snowdrop as “A pale and pining girl, head bowed, heart gnawed”, so a tragic figure who brings “her burnt heart with her in an urn/ of ashes, which she opens to re-mourn” and is “no more than a drop of snow/ on a green stem”. Despite this, the poet sees the snowdrop as having “a mighty power of patience”. I think that most people delight in seeing the first snowdrops, The photos below were taken at Pitcox House which has a dazzling array of winter trees,
From Pitxox, we drove on past Stenton and on to the road to Gifford. There had been a snowfall the night before and the snow still lay on the fields we passed, highlighting the lines of the spring wheat, which is temporarily dormant in the icy conditions. There was more snow in the Lammermuir Hills in the distance, as the photos below show.
In the bonnie village of Gifford (good photos) the wintry scene was most noticeable in the grounds of the historic Yester Parish Church where the snow still lay amongst the gravestones, as in the photos below.