Shelter from the snow…

The snow is here.

It has been smothering the East of the country for the last few days, but the cold winds blowing in from the heart of Europe have found their way to the West.

It is lovely, but everything has stopped. We have a car full of rubbish for the tip that we can not move, and the snow shows no signs of stopping.

The chickens are a little freaked- this must be their first experience of snow.

I spent some time in my workshop clearing it out and blocking off some of the open side- what keeps the rain out is not as effective against drifting snow. And the chickens were keen to join me.

I did not have the heart to kick them back out into the snow.

It is still one of my favourite places to be…

Wide open spaces…

I went for a walk.

Thanks to all of you who have been so kind and supportive in relation to my earlier post. In particular there were lots of comments about risk. Life without risk, it seems, is not really possible, but should we try to live like this, we may find that we have no life at all. Being drawn out to adventure seems to me to be an essential characteristic of the life of faith, as well as being essential to psychological and physical health and well being.

Let be honest though- some of these activities can indeed be self indulgent. They can be about the pursuit of an adrenaline high, or an experience that disconnects us from the wider community we embrace and serve. Seeking after transcendent experience in wild places can be a form of idolatry too. Yesterday a friend who was planning to come with me instead helped another friend erect a garden shed. He may well have made the better choice…

However, yesterday I just needed space. My head was full of ‘stuff’, and my temptation was just to find a hole to hide in.

So instead, I climbed up some mountains, and found some deep snow.

An activity of course that was not without risk…

A walk in the snow…

It has been very cold here recently- like most of the UK, it has been colder than most people can remember over the last weeks.

Dunoon is usually insulated from the deep cold that other parts of Scotland experience, because of our closeness to the sea. But last night, it was minus 7 degrees C outside our house, and the temperature has not been above freezing for weeks.

Along the shore, the rock pools have frozen over, and between the tides, the seaweed collects white frost.

We have not had the heavy snowfalls here that have been common elsewhere. Glasgow and Paisley (but a few miles away) are deep white, but we have the remains of snow, turned to ice for the most part.

Apart from in the hills that is.

So I decided to go look for some.

I wanted to find virgin snow- the high up powdery stuff that does not ball under your crampons. It has been a while since I kicked my way into this stuff.

I set off into the familiar hills above Bishops Glen- the forestry tracks giving way to fire breaks in the plantations, then out onto the open hillside.

And I found snow.

This Fragile Tent Christmas card, 2009…

I’m going to take a few days break from blogging. If I can. No-one reads blogs at Christmas anyway- we have far better things to do!

Like most of us, I have been busy- cleaning shovelling snow and grit, and wrapping.

We were out carol singing yesterday, and I really enjoyed it- it has become a Christmas tradition that is increasingly important to me- we take out trumpets and trombones and pianos that most of us only play once a year, and we visit some old folks homes and sing…

It is such a blessing to give- and so may you find much blessing…

And to all of you who read this blog, may this Christmas be wonderful.

And may you discover Emmanuel. God with us.

Above all the neon blaze

And electric flicker

May you still

Be blessed

By starlight

Amongst all the old recycled songs

And the fake sleighbells

May there be a moment

When peace

Falls like perfect

Snowflakes

But when we’ve overfed

And over drank

When all the gifts are given

Let us remember

That the child

Became a man

Winter (and William) stage a comeback…

Will with hood up

Will with hood up

William has been away to the Lochgoilhead Feis this weekend, run by Lochgoilhead fiddle workshop.

He has had a ball- lessons on the Clarsach (hence the photo in the earlier post) the fiddle, and whistle, as well as Gaelic singing and pecussion.

He also had a chance to do a high ropes course, go out on a high speed boat, and shoot arrows. We missed him, but he had loads of fun.

We went to fetch him this afternoon, and to watch some of the kids put on a bit of a show. It was great to see so much enthusiasm for making music- which I think is one of those key things that holds communities together. Because Will is at a Gaelic unit in school, he has a chance to get involved in all sorts of Scottish cultural events- and it gives us such pleasure to see him soaking into the stuff of our adopted land.

A few weeks ago he went to a Celtic connections event with school, and seemed to pick up a hero in young singer Norrie MacIver, accordionist, beatboxer and member of the band Bodega. Norrie was one of the tutors at the Feis, and Will has come back full of enthusiasm- wanting to take up learning an instrument again. Thanks Norrie! We all need role models, and people to draw us on…

The weather was dreadful though! The drive down the spectacular Hells Glen is always a challenge- and when there is snow on the road it can be treacherous.

So here are some photos…