Sylvia Clare’s Column – Frost (Dec 13)

Published: July 31, 2022

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This is the dark season, when the days are so short and the nights so long that every moment of light is precious. So when I saw the daylight creeping around the edges of my curtains this morning I got out of bed quickly and threw them open. My first job in a morning is always to let my darling chickens out, so in the winter I am less of an early riser than in summer and it was just after 7.30 when there was enough light outside to see what the night had brought.

It was fantastic. I was waxing eloquent to my husband who was still hibernating in bed, entreating him to get up quickly and share in the spectacle of a landscape of pale white mist, highlighted by delicately sculpted frosted shapes that loomed out of the grey light. The castle was just about visible opposite but the valley in front was completely hidden and immediately in front of the house, the shapes of yew and berberis hedges and evergreen trees, structures one sees as dark structures were suddenly white and ghostly. This is so unlike snow which has a brightness about it, the darkness of the leaves of yew and conifer beneath the layer of white, like a veil thrown over everything.

The sun rises across the valley from us and it was just appearing above the edge of the downs opposite before I could really see how magnificent it really was though. I had to get out there and document this glory of the season, a natural wonder of our wonderful climate with its wonderful variations. Yes I am raving extravagantly here because I feel a strong sense of abundance of beauty surrounding my life living in this wonderful valley. I took these photos over three stages of the morning, first of all when the sun was still very weakly coming through the misty air, then the second series as the sun was beginning to show more strongly, making everything glisten and sparkly, and finally as the sun was strongly shining and encroaching into the darker shady spots, a gentle drip drip noise surrounding me as the ice melted and the frost turning into sparkling water droplets.

I hope you like them as much I loved taking them. I have seen professional articles about winter frost but nothing is quite as wonderful as viewing with astonishment one's own garden in this season of decay and darkness when the light shines through. It is also an opportunity to view everything with an eye for the bones of the garden, the layout, the structure, the evergreens which come into their own and manifest their sometimes apparently dark looming presence in the high summer. This garden structure is fairly established now and is largely designed to offer spaces for both meditation and mindfulness practice for our workshop guests and also summer highlighted such a hide and seek for our summer family guests. We love the garden being used by all who come here, it is my main motivation for having a garden is to share it. I hope our Christmas visitors will have a chance to see a similar sight as I had this morning.

PS I am writing this on the 11.12.13 and this morning it was noted on the radio that at the moment of 8 seconds, 9 minutes past 10 am it would be 8,9,10,11,12,13. I love daft things like that and it made the day feel even more special because I finished this article around that timing.

Sylvia Clare

Text and photographs by Sylvia Clare, who has been an HPS member for more than 10 years.