This one turned into a bit of a trial...
There was a light dusting of snow on the ground first thing but soon after it started to rain and what was there on the roads and pavements turned to slush. This made it a little dicey driving and as it poured down I wondered if I should be in the car at all. Fortunately it soon settled down and the roads further from home were better.
This was my fifth trip in a week to Ribblesdale, I wanted to make the most of my Christmas break. Yesterday we went up there to just mess around in the snow and I had my first go at skiing. Apparently the video footage of me falling flat on my face is very funny. I can't risk showing it to you as you may die laughing.
The forecast was reasonable and although the North East was expecting more heavy snow, it was calm and still and I hoped that the sky would clear later on so the ice would shine. If felt a little warmer too and the freshly fallen powder consolidated quickly and would be excellent for sculpting.
I alternated between warm mountaineering mitts to reinvigorate the circulation to my fingers and yellow marigolds for dexterity and the handling of the snow. I could sense the temperature fluctuating as the snow cooled my hands more quickly at different times and I hoped that this meant that I might see the sun soon. Ice comes alive in the sun. Indeed there were patches of blue above me and they seemed to be joining together. The portents were good and I was hopeful the sculpture would come together as I could see it in my minds eye.
It started to snow lightly and clouded over, this might clear the air once it passed over so I set up my tripod and camera in readiness. I took a couple of test shots just to be sure, or at least I tried to...
"Blink-blink-blink Err 01" It said.
"I don't speak camera" I said back to it.
"Blink-blink-blink Err 01" it repeated.
"Oh sod it, my camera has decided to give up on me." I tried all the normal things like removing the battery but it didn't work. I couldn't do much else without some shelter as I didn't want little flakes of snow inside it.
I encased myself in my jacket and tried to open it up underneath but it still wasn't working. I expected that I needed to clean the contacts on the lenses. The trick for this is to use a pencil eraser to rub them. Did I have an eraser with me? Did I 'eck? Could I fashion one out of grass and snow? Ermm no. How about rabbit poo, ice and limestone?
I stowed my kit under a boulder and set off back to the car in the forlorn hope that I would find what I needed there. Trudge, trudge, trudge, mutter, mutter, mutter. "All that effort and I won't be able to take a picture!" "Bah!"
I scratched around in the side pockets and down the seats before opening the glove box and finding a pencil with an eraser on it's end! Hallelujah! My camera spoke to me again "alright boss, sorry about that, having a funny day don't you know, let's get back at it!"
Redeemed, my friend and I headed back up the hill and just as I got back there I noticed the light had subtly changed. There was an orange hue you sometimes get in snow and the sculpture was set against a darker background as the dark clouds moved down the valley ahead. The ice was still not lit up but hey this might be the best I could get.
And so it was...
Behind me better weather seemed to be arriving, more blue sky and brighter too. But it was a wolf in sheeps clothing.
Gradually the breeze started to strengthen and within minutes a full on blizzard had hit. Spindrift was blowing all around and it stung the eyes to look into the teeth of the wind. I stayed for a while hoping that it might relent but instead it got stronger and stronger bringing another full on white out and arctic conditions. This was quite low down so it must have been horrendous on the tops. Navigation would be nigh on impossible without googles to protect your eyes.
Everything I had was covered or full up with snow and there was nothing else for it but to get out of there. My tracks had now been filled in and I could only see a few yards ahead of me but I knew the direction I wanted to go in and set off fortunately with the wind on my back. I tried a few times to look back at the sculpture for a few last looks but the stinging ice was too much for my eyes.
When I finally made it back to the road I glanced up to look for my car only to have a camera pointed straight at me and a snap taken. I must have looked a state coming out of the blizzard covered head to toe in snow.
But despite the intense conditions, I wouldn't have had it any other way. Land Art has so many lessons to teach and it was a joy and a pleasure to be out there making a sculpture in Mother nature's palm, feeling her snow between my fingers and feeling the force of her wrath on my face. I am privileged to be given so many opportunities to experience her many different facets. Long may it continue
Oh and the Snow Sentinel had fallen over. It was still there yesterday when we were messing about skiing but it was leaning disconcertingly. I would have got a picture of it's remains but the blizzard had different ideas.
Saturday, January 02, 2010
This one turned into a bit of a trial...