Forecasts of snow come flagged with a warning but, for many, winter is the best season of the year, they cannot wait for snow. That may be understandable if you are into skiing or snowboarding or sledging. There has even been outdoor skating and curling in Scotland this winter with scenes of skating in Edinburgh reminiscent of Henry Raeburn’s famous painting ‘Skating on Duddingston Loch’, known as ‘The Skating Minister’.
Many artists find winter magical. Not for them the bright flat light of a summer day when they can have the low sun and the long shadows of winter, golden dawn reflecting off the snow or afternoon sunset colouring pure white fields. A full moon across a winter landscape is sublime, with stars crisp and bright.
Do you love winter or loathe it? I love it, as long as we have frost and snow, not wind and rain. Winter light has a special quality. Snow and frost transform the landscape, the dull muted colours of winter are banished under fresh snowfall. And snow is rarely white, it is blue and pink and purple…
A sharp frosty day under an intense blue sky is invigorating, a blanket of snow under a fierce blue sky can be almost painful. If there is only a scattering of snow or if the snow is in retreat then the patterns on the land are revealed — dykes mark out territory, field edges are delineated and ploughed crops made plain.
It seems it’s something of a myth that the Inuit have more than 50 words for snow but there are certainly more than 50 ways to paint snow. Large snowflakes are surely the best, if there is no wind and the snow builds up on shrubs and branches. Then, if the wind blows, the snow drifts into waves, changing from hour to hour until it melts into slush, slopping about. When you get a combination of pristine fresh snow and winter light, it is just glorious.
We have been envious of other parts of the country this winter. While we have had many hard frosts, we have had very little snow, although we did have a white Christmas. Just a few miles further inland and the hills are white but, unusually, our corner has been missed.
We tune in to the weather forecast every evening and every evening it seems we are disappointed but this weekend, just maybe, the light scattering of snowflakes that has been falling this week will be followed by heavier snowfall and we will awaken to a winter paradise.