January blues….

Wonderful pencil drawing of the back of the house in winter – artist unknown 2001

I can’t wait for January – and February come to that – to be over. I’m tempted to add March to that list but at least March is generally making a serious attempt at change… Every fibre of my being longs for warm sunshine, blue skies, and meadows full of flowers and birdsong. I can’t wait to see bright colours and butterflies. I want to be back in shorts and t-shirts and seeking the cool interior of the house because it’s too warm outside….Dream on…

I know that spring will eventually be sprung – however, long it takes, it will arrive…But once the excitement of Christmas and New Year have passed, winter drags its heels like an old man crossing the road – you know you have to wait for him but it doesn’t stop you muttering for him to get a move on, and short of running him over in full view of many people who actually like him, there’s absolutely no way of shifting him out of the way faster….

Inevitably we get the ‘excitement’ of snow at some stage. I have mixed feelings about it…If I have the luxury of staying at home and sitting in front of the fire, snuggled up and cosy, I don’t mind it at all. Except for those bits where I have to go out and sort the chickens out or venture outside to the washouse to do a spot of laundry…Mr Pat just hates it. It doesn’t matter how pretty it is, and it really is beautiful, Mr Pat does not like cold feet, and he especially hates cold, wet, slushy feet…

There some horrible things which happen after snow. For a start, one or both of us has to go to work. So, the drive needs clearing, the road needs clearing, salt must be spread. Some of us are better at this than others. And some are just better left to do other things…I wish. Mr Pat does most of the hard graft and I show willing…

Only very rarely do I caught out by a surprise snowfall these days. Our winters are punctuated by a constant check of the weather…Met Office (accept no substitutes) and the Mountain Weather Information Service. We’re halfway up a mountain at nearly 250m (depending on where you are at the time) – not far off 1,000 feet – so we definitely fall somewhere between the Met Office forecast for normal people and the MWIS one for proper winter walkers…The most frequent question in the house over the winter is not “Is the kettle on?” or “Where are my slippers?” (though these can be heard repeatedly) but “What’s the weather forecast?”

So the car is usually nestled into a cosy parking space at the bottom of the Big Hill – where it stays until we head down. I’m never sure what’s worse – leaving it behind, getting geared up in the car, strapping my head torch on and heading upwards slowly in the dark, or treading cautiously on the white stuff and risking a long slide downhill on my backside…

As is the way of things here, the snow either gets washed away by torrential rain ☔️ or it freezes solid. And then we’re all in trouble…The lane turns into an ice rink for which the average driver is majorly unprepared and we await the arrival of distressed drivers who have suddenly found themselves facing the wrong way or settled nicely into a drystone wall or, worst of all, have gone over the top cattlegrid and seen the abyss at the other side and thought better of it. I once came home from work and found a man in the barn – he was searching for a shovel and some grit. I thought that was a bit cheeky, to be honest – it was his entitled attitude I took offence at, he just thought we should have what he needed lying around and that it was okay to take it.

Mostly, though, things are not that exciting…winter is dreary, dark and dismal. I try to take heart from the splendour of the views…

…they are incredible. And they are life-affirming in a grand and eternal kind of way. Mr Pat took this picture of a Herdy the other day on his way to work. Whose day could not be cheered by the sight of this glorious, stubborn breed standing boldly and prettily in front of Bowfell? Even on a muddy, grim afternoon, the landscape breathes life into us.

I still wish spring would appear soon…but in the meantime, I’ll keep looking for the good stuff.

Published by Sue Lee

The challenges of living off grid at the top of The Big Hill at Blea Tarn in the Langdale valley with a few furries & my other half, Mr Pat.

7 thoughts on “January blues….

  1. I don’t live in as isolated a place as you but yearn for warmer days too. However my heart has been lightened this week by the white dots of snowdrop heads showing up around the garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your descriptive writing Sue, especially “winter dragging on like an old man crossing the road”.. Wonderful. Your life where you live is so far away from many us, but what a wonderful life, even with all your hardships.. Your photos and the drawing complete this writeup so beautifully. Thank you and I look forward to your next edition.

    Liked by 1 person

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