Almanac: Winter frosts, finding shadows and the missing trees

A frosty cold morning, one Sunday in January. On days like this it is best to get outside quickly, before the sun has a chance to melt the crispness away.

The frost creates beauty wherever it falls. We encourage the children to listen to the crunch underfoot. This is rare and a special part of winter, especially in a warmer-then-usual season such as we have seen this year.

We follow a path through the trees and towards the rocky outcrops. After a steep climb, we crest the hill and immediately notice a large, startling patch of bright light, where we expected to see shady canopy.

We look down at our feet, at the remains of the hundreds of Scots pine and larch trees that had been here only a week before. These trees have been here all of my life, I know them so well. It is as disconcerting as a house suddenly vanishing from our street.

We look out at the newly cleared view over to the much younger Jubilee Woods – which we have never seen from this height before – and the green fields stretching out before us. Even in the depths of winter, there is so much greenness to our county.

A sign affixed to a muddy slope explains that the evergreen trees that had been commercially planted over 80 years ago are to be gradually removed, and native rowan, silver birch and oak trees will be reintroduced to this patch of woodland. I consider how the areas of natural deciduous forest are filled with light, allowing other plants to flourish and how dark and close this area had always felt.

The frost is melting as the sun rises higher in the sky, casting long shadows across our path. The mud is wet and slippy under our feet where the logging vehicles have churned up the ground. It is a bit tricky to traverse with a toddler in a carrier on my back!

Our 10 year old son, profoundly autistic, has paused in leading the way and seems completely engrossed in the forest floor. We realise he has discovered his shadow for the very first time. He runs, it follows. He walks, it slows too. We watch him jumping, to see if his shadow leaves the ground with him. It is completely delightful.

There is always time for tree climbing, even on cold days like today. My daughter copies her four older brothers, and whilst still on my back, starts grabbing the branches above us and trying to commence her first ever climb at around six foot up. Luckily, the carrier straps hold.

I ask the children to look up at the canopy, reminding them that spring is on the way and this spiderweb of branches will be covered in buds, blossom and then leaves again before we know it.

I pause to take a final look at the winter woodland. The lack of leaves helps to reveal the frond-like architecture that is hidden for most of the year. I love the space between the trees, how they seem to make room for each other. When our little one is in her eighties, the part of the forest that today is bare ground, will look like this once again.

For more stories from our local woodlands at the end of winter see:

Searching for bluebells – watching the seasons with children

Waiting for spring – stream walking the forest

Woodland on the cusp of spring

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27 Comments Add yours

  1. What a good thing that the trees are gradually being replaced with the trees that should be there. Looks like you had another delightful walk.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes – although the giant gap is a bit stark at the moment, it is definitely a good move x


      1. At least they haven’t just been cut down willy-nilly for profit.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That is very true – I was so relieved when I noticed the sign and learnt there was a reason for it x

          Liked by 1 person

  2. A splendid morning walk and profound thoughts about the next 80 years

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Derrick … it’s easy to become lost in thought in quiet natural spaces πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. seekraz says:

    How nice that you were able to be there when your son discovered his shadow! What a treasure….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s lovely when you spot a sudden milestone πŸ™‚


  4. Jo says:

    So much to love about this – the simple joy of a shadow. I love how they’ll be reforesting with trees native to the area.


    1. Having aspie children has really changed our perspective on life, we notice the tiny things and celebrate them much more now.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Becky says:

    Beautiful photographs, and a lovely account of your walk.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Becky πŸ™‚


  6. A wonderful place for your family to walk, run, and climb in. But, sure looks different than our Maine woods in winter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your Maine woodlands look beautiful x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They really are! Many thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. nanacathy2 says:

    It’s incredible when trees are felled and all of a sudden there is a new view. We have been here 18 years now and some views we loved have gone because the trees now obstruct it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no … I hope they are picturesque trees at least πŸ™‚


    1. Thank you very much x

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Nancy says:

    How beautiful that he discovered his shadow! And you watched him delight in it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it was because it’s the first time the shadow has been his exact size, and not distorted – he was so pleased πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wonderful photos of your walk and what a surprise to see those trees had been cut and cleared.. Thankfully the woodland is managed and more will replenish for the future.. But I always feel for mature trees which have been cut down… You see many such clearing of pines don’t you in Scotland..
    And Happy to know your Son learnt a new game of outrun your shadow.. πŸ™‚
    Love the frost on leaves and your images here are very special. πŸ˜€


    1. You are very right about Scotland – and huge squares cut out looks really jarring too – it’s a full-on giant industry up there.

      I love frost photography, especially with a macro lens πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You did a beautiful job of capturing it

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you so much x

          Liked by 1 person

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