Oh the marvel of a snow filled landscape, heavy clouds moving off to reveal crystal clear skies. The land becomes covered, but still baring charms and secrets. The unnerving eerie beauty, dampened sound; the changing air seems to slow down time. Stillness. The last time it heavily snowed, was 2010 and my sister celebrated her first birthday with no running water.
We wander, play…explore and discover. This new palette brings forth the leaping Hare prints, previously hidden, to me. We flush a snipe, its brown striped velvet striking against the starkness of snow. So much more in sight…birds, the heaviness of the air seemingly burdening their flight.
Dancing patterns, a new window to look through. We run through it, our familiar world is transformed into an expedition, a thrill.
A buzzard flashes and wheels, mobbed by hooded crows, strength in numbers. It momentarily takes rest in a tree, before it’s hounded and chased once more. I fall behind, as usual. This place is full of things, invisible to everyone else. I catch my breath, every new sound surfacing like a wave.
A small shape flickers and reveals itself. The smallest European bird, the ten pence bird. Its weightlessness is not parallel with the piercing call it makes. A Goldcrest pinches the bark, flitting almost faster than my eye can focus. Blink and miss it. Peck, flit, in and out of vision. I strain to keep track, forgetting the cold until the realisation of a throb; my tingling face. I move onwards and up to the sky. And the others.
Roaming the less trodden path, has always been my way. In the snow, fewer people make it more perfect, to really walk it. Larger strides are muffled by the thicker depths and I feel each step more and more satisfying. My actions, my mind, my feet always seem to prefer this route. The difficult path, the more challenging one. I relish each upward push of the sole of my boot.
As I rest, I think with a swell that my roots are shaped by place and the freedom to explore. That my mind is expanded by the sparks and connections which follow. I feel gratitude for the few people who walk this path also, although I prefer some distance, away from them too.
It was so wonderful to experience the Marble Arch Caves Geopark in all its thick cloaked glory. It was also really special to share my world with Freya McClements , who will be writing an article: which should appear in The Irish Times soon.
Thanks for reading