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Filey Pattern IX: Week 4 – 25 January

It snowed the other night, almost the first proper snow of winter, so that we awoke to a frozen world. We’ve escaped the worst of the weather so far here in Wick, sheltered as we are by the mountains; it’s as if the really bad storms just give up before they reach us. It helps too that we’re right beside the ocean, and while no one would pretend the North Sea is exactly famous for its sunbathing opportunities, it does exercise a moderating influence. So we’ve had ice and hail and gales and rain and sleet this winter, but not much snow. It’s bitterly cold, though: the wind’s knifing down from the arctic, the scavenging seagulls have a feral, hungry look like extras in a Mad Max movie, and you can see the ducks on the river huddling together miserably, thinking: You mean we migrated all the way from Siberia for this?

None shall pass: before the freeze

There’s something magical, in-the-bleak-midwinter-ish about snow, which always takes me back to my childhood before the original sin really kicked in. There are some beautiful lines by the Scottish singer-songwriter Al Stewart: Do you remember the time we were young?/ Lowly, lowly, low/ Outside the window the frosty moonlight hung/ On the midnight snow. And when I hear those lines, yes, I do remember. (Mind you, it was Al Stewart who also sang, Now winter moans/ in old men’s bones/ as the day falls into dark—when I first heard that in my teens I thought it was just, well, poetry; forty years later I realise it was, regrettably, something of a prophecy…) 

Snow-covered nets

In gansey news, as you can see this one’s nearly finished—just the lower sleeve and cuff to go. (I’ve learned however not to underestimate the demoralising effect of a five- or six-inch cuff, which always takes longer than you’d like.) I’ve mentioned before what a pleasure this pattern has been to knit; it just clicks, all the pattern elements complementing each other, cables always fallen on the same pattern repeat. If things go to plan I should finish it later this week, and then it can be blocked into revealing its true pattern.

Snow at South Head

Outside, the snow, frozen overnight and softly thawing through the day, is beginning to freeze again with the coming of night. You can see the frozen footsteps of everyone who’s come to our front door since Saturday morning, which explains why we’re always so excited to see the postman (who wears shorts; welcome to Scotland). So to celebrate the snow’s survival, here’s a superb wee poem by the Chinese poet Bai Juyi, who lived 772-846 (remarkable to think he was broadly contemporary with Charlemagne), called “Night Snow”:

Already surprised to find my quilt and pillow cold
I again see pale light shining through the window;
The night lies deep and I know the snow is heavy,
Sometimes I hear the bamboo crack beneath its weight.

A very happy Burns Night on Monday to all our readers! (Remember, plunge your haggis straight into boiling water so it doesn’t suffer…)

4 comments to Filey Pattern IX: Week 4 – 25 January

  • Eve

    Never mind the humane dispatch of the haggis, I’ve just managed to jam a knife Excalibur like into a swede (which is what we call neeps in Lincolnshire). In the absence of the once and future king it took two of us to extract it narrowly escaping a trip to A & E

    • Gordon

      Hi Eve, ah, the ancient prophecy: “Whosoever pulleth this knife from this swede shall be the true born King of all England, so long as he can still count to ten using only his fingers afterwards”. (It reads better in the original Latin, of course…)

  • =Tamar

    Just be careful not to get burned…

    Your weather sounds a bit like Maryland right now.

    The overworked postmen here are still trying to clear the backlog of packages from Christmas. I assume that’s why I got someone else’s package. If it’s not too icy I’ll be out redelivering.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, there’s an old joke about all Scottish hospitals having a Burns Unit, consisting of someone reciting the bard’s verses to the patients… 😀

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