Winter light

I have mentioned before the importance I place on just being able to be in the garden, to find something to appreciate in the here and now. This winter has been so grey and miserable and wet, so far at least, so it was a big relief when it started to snow a few days ago. Somehow everything looks instantly better under the snow duvet and I love how even flat grey daylight is scattered back into any room, instantly brightening everything. Having spent quite a lot of time in the Arctic, the snow light inside always reminds me of Svalbard.

So when I awoke to alpine blue skies and blazing cold sunshine this morning, it wasn’t hard to bet the garden, and our local park, would be looking amazing…
Since our garden is rather sheltered and faces West, we don’t really get a lot of winter sun so the few glancing rays through the trees make all the difference. The quality of light and dark shade contrast beautifully on these kind of days and it struck me how important light is to us especially now at this time of year when it’s in such short supply.

I love these birch trees in the park behind our house for example, the brilliant silver white glimmers in the low winter sun in a very evocative contrast with the Scots pines. The combination irresistibly reminds me of the Cairngorms, Glen Affric and the few remaining fragments of Caledonian wildwood.

Clearly the light entices and encourages exploration by this little wood elf at least:


I think she was feeling the magic too, especially after our successful sledging trip earlier.

Other parts of the garden in deep shade are scarcely attractive at all, like the rather forlorn sandpit and raised vegetable bed (with topiary teddy bear! Not, I hasten to add my work at all)…

So then, eventually, the cold drove us inside and the exploration of all that beautiful winter light was halted, until I went out to (rather unglamorously) empty the food waste bucket on the compost heap. Heading back to the house, the importance of light once again struck me. The picture doesn’t really capture it, but I think we have all felt the pull and the power of the bright window in the dark on a cold night at some point.

Famously and perhaps apocryphally, the Danes use more candles per capita than any other nation, the long dark winters are definitely one reason why. This year for some reason we have joined the legions of candle-lighting Danes.

However, we’ve also added these charming LED lights in a tree. They can be seen from the kitchen shining into the back door, they make a huge and very hyggelig sight from the frigid wastes of the back garden at night.



And the little “twigs”, sticking out of the window box in this picture? They are the remains of sparklers that my husband loves to light and play with for the kids. Yet another way of holding back the dark and enjoying the light at this time of year.


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