Published on 7/03/2018
COMMENTATORS HAVE BEEN STATING that the recent severe weather is unprecedented. Not so. It has just not been so common in recent years. This drawing is from twenty five years ago, 1993, long before websites or email became commonplace.
Conditions in early March of that year were much the same as this year. The Tolquhon road was blocked and we had to cancel our exhibition opening. Danny drew this cartoon and we hurriedly posted out a second invitation. We had not even a word processor in those days, this was typed out on an old fashioned typewriter, then photocopied.
We have had a similar situation three or four times since then. 2004 was the last time we had to postpone the opening of our Spring Exhibition.
We did have a couple of “serious collectors" on Sunday but they had no need to dig their way through — their old style Land Rover Defender was more than up to the conditions. They were pleased to have a personal viewing and delighted to walk off with Fiona Millar’s “Galloway Winter".
There were so many different types of snow last week that it was easy to believe what is, apparently, a myth, that the Inuit have 100 different names for snow. There was everything from dry powder snow to wet sleet, tiny snow specks, more smirr than snowstorm, to large floaty flakes. Powder snow lay in layers and was picked up effortlessly by blasts of east wind coming direct from the North Sea, piling it up in deep drifts.
The blizzards and fierce winds brought many birds to the garden. We have rarely had to fill the bird feeders more frequently. Twice a day, our large capacity feeders needed topping up, as we went through kilos of sunflower seeds, peanuts, grain and suet balls.
There was a strong pecking order among the birds. Most of the little birds quietly got on with their business. The bullies seemed to be the blackbirds, around 7 or 8 of them. They did call a truce one morning, when the wind was particularly fierce, huddling together in a row beneath the bushes.
Then a group of fieldfares blew in. They generally prefer open fields rather than gardens, but they must have been hungry, their usual food sources inaccessible under the deep snow. They are beautiful birds with striking markings, round balls of fluff with their feathers plumped up to insulate them from the cold. They stripped the last of the cotoneaster berries and scrabbled for seed.
A pair of woodpeckers are frequent visitors. We hear them drumming in the trees, then they hammer away at the peanut feeder. Long tail tits have also been visiting. They are remarkably tame. Like the robins, they seem unconcerned if you are within a few feet of them.
There was a wonderful mosaic of bird tracks in the snow, but also tracks of large round pads with claws. A badger must have come calling.
Other very welcome visitors have been our neighbours, bearing delicious eggs from their gan-aboot* hens. Human company averts cabin fever.
It has thawed rapidly now with banked up snow becoming a muddy mess. But we have the compensation of the spring flowers emerging from beneath their snow blanket.
The forecast for the weekend is reasonable, no more snow is expected, so we look forward to welcoming visitors to see a superb Spring Exhibition.
We can give the same message as twenty five years ago — "With the exhibition now up, we can say that this is one of the best Spring shows ever, so why not enjoy glass of wine and a roaring fire next Sunday and view work by" a long list of artists.
* free range - “going about”