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  • Janette Kerr Land of Ice

Monday - The blizzard

This was Sunday night as I left the studio - new snow starting to fall.

Woke Monday morning to a white-out with a sweeping wind driving the snow off the mountains. Still dark here until well after 9am. As you can see the snow ploughs get into action early.

Went back to bed and read until I could resist the need to get out there no longer. Driving snow is pretty painful on the skin. Had to dig our way into the studio.

Just to give you a sense of the deepness of the snow here it is against the studio window...yes I know it's drifting but it's still deep to walk in.

Snow piles up thick and white, blue in the shadows, glinting where light catches it, piled even higher where snow ploughs have passed by and pushed it to the side of the roads, piled against walls and doors where the wind has blown it, more falling now covering foot prints and tyre tracks. Absurdly ‘Good King Wenceslas’ starts up in my head – it is pretty deep, but not at all even.

I part walk, am part blown, along the tracks by the sea wall.

On one side the sea is pounding against dark rocks, wave after wave coursing in towards me, spume riding high under a weak sun. On the other I’m hit by wind and air filled with snow spiralling towards me from invisible mountains.

I find one of my lost crampons – the elves have seen fit to return it; maybe they’re impressed by my daring, maybe they'll give other one back if I continue along the beach. But at the bridge I hesitate, pulling myself up with some effort over the wooden slates against the blustering air.

On the far side freezing water containing lumps of ice melt streams by fast on either side. It’s probably not a good idea to try to cross, especially in this wind.

Blocks of ice have been blown together, forced up into crazy piles.

I crouch down to look at the base of the ice blocks now raised up at crazy angles out of the water, stained deep orange from where they’ve lain on the earth, stones caught in their body.

Reluctantly I turn and go back, and finding a bit of shelter behind a solid looking container try to draw the racing sea, stuffing brushes into snow to wet them and rubbing more snow into the paper to dilute my watercolour and charcoal until my fingers start to freeze. Enough!

I walk determinedly back striding into the wind, head down, eyes and face stinging as hard snow hits me. It’s like a battle – although I’m not sure who’s going to win. I wave cheerily at a passing car, the well-insulated folk inside waving back and smiling at me. It’s exhilarating; I wouldn’t be anywhere else right at this moment.

Wind whistles around the studio building, occasional loud blasts hitting the walls, waves suddenly appearing over the sea wall with a dull thud followed by a roar. Only two of us in this morning – we feel brave and fearless. Kerryn sends messages for us all to stay safe. By the afternoon more arrive, and work continues amid the storm.

23.30 Snug in bed; outside, the wind still loud, snow still falling. Time to get back to my book – Lighhousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson – another stormy place with watery tales to tell.

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