Friday, January 07, 2011

The Beauty of the Winter and the North East

I think sometimes human words are irrelevant, especially when it comes to the beauty of nature. Marty and I often talk about life and what it will hold for us in the future. Being people who speak multiple languages, albeit mine aren't great, we think and dream about what to do as we have a great thing called choice now.

We love that the world is so "easy" to travel around, and that there are so many options open to us. But, there is always a but, we never know what to do, we are, as the saying goes "spoilt for choice".

Almost all of my students and most everyone I meet in Poland will ask "Why are you here? You could be in Australia in the sun!", I laugh and tell them, "I actually like Poland! Its seasons, its people, and its food." They all think I am "A crazy Australian!" and shake their collective heads. When my family came here for my recent wedding my father repeated ad nauseum that "Poland is nice, but how can you live in such cold conditions, the weather is horrid", he would remind me every time I saw him. His other favourite saying was "I feel like a Christmas turkey in all these layers of clothes".

However, if we are ever to leave Poland, I think one of the things I would miss most of all is indeed the weather. It would be very hard to leave the snow behind. I know it is cold, wet, numbing, almost painful and hence horrid when you are waiting for a tram, or walking somewhere before the paths have been cleaned. That is something Polish people (and me at times) forget, that the paths are labouriously cleaned by the amazing people of the city of Warsaw. I still wonder how they survive out there for hours at a time cleaning snow from footpaths, roads, and transport stops. Sometimes feeling, like it is as my father-in-law said to me at Christmas, after I had done my shovelling duty for an hour and a half, "impossible to beat the weather. Winter always wins".

That said to me, the winter is gorgeous, the air is crystalline, it is almost tasty because it is so clean. I love it when you get a little whiff of someone's wood fire burning as you stroll about town or in Sokolka when I am out with the camera. I am still a huge kiddy at heart and get great pleasure out of seeing my own breath emanate from my mouth, I make snow balls while I wait for the tram. I love the cracking of ice underneath a layer of snow when we have had a little thaw. I also love not having a car so I can look at the ice formations on windscreens, as I trot through the snow to work, with a sense of wonder and enjoyment rather than thinking about having to scrape it off myself as in England, when I would curse frost for putting me a whole massive 5 minutes behind schedule. Something that really, in the grand scheme of things, is irrelevant, but at the time when you have numb fingers and 6 windows to clear seems like some sort of world-stopping event.

So this post is a tribute to Winter, my frigid cold mistress. She loves me in her own way, she loves to envelop me in her tentacle-like arms when I am up early in the morning going to the far side of the city. She loves to tickle me under the chin, if I forget to do my scarf up high enough and she will hold my hand till it turns blue, if I forget my gloves. But, I know why. She does this so that I don't forget her and take her for granted. So that I appreciate her for what she is. Lady Winter, my mistress of the start and end of each year, is the one that prepares me for the explosion of Lady Spring who makes my eyes water with her pollens. She gives me a contrasting comparison for the sweaty Miss Summer who will make me sweat and laugh at me for having to wear jeans or long pants (trousers for you UK based people) to work. She is also the result of Granny Autumn who teases my eyes with colour and her bountiful natural foods.

The sky in Winter when clear is freezing, but stunning. I'll trade numb fingers for this easily!
I love how we many people leave the apples on the tree through winter, some say it is because they are a great fertilizer when they fall in spring others know it is just about being lazy.
Mistletoe, the predator of the North East.
Mistletoe up close.
Without electricity, many would be in dire trouble come winter.
Contrasts are what winter is all about.
I am "hooked" on winter. Sorry, horrible pun.

A little sun and we get some thaw.
A little thaw can quickly turn into a river.
Crisp and clean snow melt.
Birch and the lichen that are common here.
The home grove.
Country cats love climbing trees, they only need firemen to save them in the city.
It is hard to see, but the tree is actually sweating!
Clear skies and cat tracks.
Little house on the praire, or at least in the snow.
The crispness of sun and snow is fabulous, but can be a challenge to photograph with so much brighness.
After running around outside for so long I had to come in for a coffee and to sit by the fire. I just admired it from the window for the rest of the day, I might love the colour, the crisp, the clairity, the pristine nature of snow and ice. But, at the end of it all, I still like being warm.

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