Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Freeze - Day Nine

When I got a text yesterday from Scarriff Community College saying the school would be closed today I was surprised. The local primary school has been closed since last week, but the secondary school stayed open. The Scarriff roads were gritted and free from snow last week but now there's freezing fog down there in the valley and the roads are lethal. I suspect they've had less students each day as the conditions settled into solid ice.

At least I don't have to make a decision about whether to try to get into the school for the lunchtime trad music group I've been involved in. I really had thought I'd be going to that today. That conditions would be better.
The ice is getting thicker on the flat bridge. We've put down a trail of ash from the range and the sitting room stove which helps with the walking, but there's no way we'd get a vehicle across it. And even though we left the car at Ryan's Bridge a five-minute walk away, I don't think we'd get that out today either. I'm supposed to be teaching tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

It's raw today with a north wind. Outside is very quiet. No distant sounds at all. Standing in the garden it felt as though the world had closed in to our little valley. Our muscles have become used to walking in ice and snow so we stride up the hill to the top where everything is cold and still. It's slower coming down. Going out towards the main road is getting awkward. The strip of snow up the middle, the safe place for walking, is narrowing from the few vehicles that have passed up and down.

As always I wonder how the birds can survive such harsh conditions, especially the tiny ones. I'm putting out food two or three times a day. I counted 26 chaffinches this morning. The blackbirds and fieldfares are still busy at the apples - 27 fieldfares the other day and 16 blackbirds. I've been hacking
Bird bath ice shapes
ice-bound apples out of piles tipped off the lawn in autumn and scattering them under the apple tree where there's less snow and ice to provide food for a few days more.

Under the hanging bird bath is evidence of the continuing freeze - ice shapes from previous days' upending of the water container. I haven't seen any birds using it yet. It's fairly new and they're suspicious. Or perhaps they're getting their drinking water elsewhere. Not from the garden pond though. That's solid with ice.

The skies look as though we may get more snow. There was a sprinkling this morning. There's a thaw promised for Thursday but it's beginning to feel as though this is the world now. We're into a steady rhythm of getting in fuel, trying to keep pathways safe to walk on, feeding the birds. We have become insular. A strange inertia has settled on the house which has become a place of hibernation. I've stopped being anxious about things. It feels like it will be more and more difficult to go out into the world again.

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