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  • Writer's pictureMonique Sliedrecht

March White Out

Here I was thinking that I would return to a spring-filled Scotland and that the daffodils would be out, but as one friend gently suggested in a message just before I left Canada: 'Not wishing to disappoint you, but snow is predicted here early next week'.

Sure enough, two days in and the temperature is frigid. This morning I woke to a blanket of white and the flakes keep blowing across my view out of the studio windows. Hmmm…. This wasn’t supposed to happen.

In the meantime, I am hunkered down, wearing my new and very warm slippers found on sale at SeaSalt, and drinking copious amounts of hot liquids.

Last night I went out into the cool night and the puddles in the lane were frozen, the ground hard with frost. The moon was out and shed the most beautiful glow over the lightly snow dusted ground.

Sometimes we have to just accept the unexpected, adjust our thinking and enjoy the beauty of the moment.

I pulled out some magazine clippings that I had stashed away to go through at a later time. Today seemed a good day for this as I’m creating a vision board for some upcoming paintings I plan to do. The board is a way of setting a stage of inspiration by bringing various pictures, words, ideas and sketches together in one place that may feed into future pieces.

While sifting through the articles cut out of magazines, I came across one about the British artist Eric Ravelious, whose work I don’t know too well. Looking him up on Wikipedia, it says he was a British painter, designer, book illustrator and wood-engraver. He grew up in Sussex, and is particularly known for his watercolours of the South Downs, Castle Hedingham and other English landscapes, which examine English landscape and vernacular art with an off-kilter, modernist sensibility and clarity. He served as a war artist, and was the first British war artist to die on active service in World War II when the aircraft he was in was lost off Iceland.

In keeping with the current weather in the north of Scotland, and after leaving a snowy Ontario, I was drawn to this painting of his today, called ‘Halstead Road in the Snow’ painted in 1935.

I like the stillness of it. Falling snow does bring a kind of peace to the landscape, even if it is blowing around. The world becomes monochromatic and fresh with the white covering everything.

For now the daffodils and crocuses will have to wait patiently, just as I am, for Spring to arrive.

This afternoon I broke the mezmerization of snowfall and jetlag by going into Thurso to run a few errands. Passing through the dunes and wood on the edge of Dunnet Bay was magical.

In time the snow will be gone, replaced by greenery and growth. Why not enjoy the majestic lion's presence while it lasts? The lamb will soon be born.

Tonight the moon will be full, but I'm not sure we'll see it in the north with the snow-laden clouds filling the sky. As my friend Brian writes: '...if the beauty of the moon is hidden by clouds, perhaps there’s a down-to-earth way-marker that you might notice today, which reminds you of the slow but inexorable turning of the Earth toward the light, and brings you hope. A magnolia bud is opening in our garden, the very colour of moonlight itself. And that will do, for me.'


by William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)

The stormy March is come at last, With wind, and cloud, and changing skies, I hear the rushing of the blast, That through the snowy valley flies.

Ah, passing few are they who speak, Wild stormy month! in praise of thee; Yet, though thy winds are loud and bleak, Thou art a welcome month to me.

For thou, to northern lands, again The glad and glorious sun dost bring, And thou hast joined the gentle train And wear’st the gentle name of Spring.

And, in thy reign of blast and storm, Smiles many a long, bright, sunny day, When the changed winds are soft and warm, And heaven puts on the blue of May.

Then sing aloud the gushing rills And the full springs, from frost set free, That, brightly leaping down the hills, Are just set out to meet the sea.

The year’s departing beauty hides Of wintry storms the sullen threat; But in thy sternest frown abides A look of kindly promise yet.

Thou bring’st the hope of those calm skies, And that soft time of sunny showers, When the wide bloom, on earth that lies, Seems of a brighter world than ours.

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