"The Atholl Palace is one of my favourite places where each year we meet up with good friends and have fun. It's the perfect place to stay in a perfect setting with lovely people looking after us. What more could a person want?"
Sitting inside a warm room looking out whilst large snowflakes fall can be a magical experience.
Northern peoples, like the Innuits, claim to have many words to describe various forms of snow and, to an extent, country folk here do as well. We describe falling snow, drifting snow, lying snow, thawing snow etc etc. But the snow I had in mind in my opening sentence is that slow, silent, windless, large flaked snow which you just know is going to lie and get deeper, quickly, and when you look outside it seems to have an almost endless depth of field. The snow much loved by kids as it is dry but also slightly sticky so that it makes a good snowball or snowman. And when you are thinking about such things David Attenborough comes on the TV and goes further. He tells us that all snowflakes have six fold symmetry and that no two of the same shape have ever been found. Now that is astonishing and quite difficult to comprehend as thousand upon thousand large, soft flakes tumble passed the window.
Herbaceous plants arenít much affected by snow, in general they are pretty dormant at this time and snow usually means less frost. Most trees, especially trees which are native to areas where snow is an annual feature, cope well with snow but mechanical damage can occur and it can be severe at times. By mechanical I mean the action of heavy snow settling on branches and causing them to break. Perhaps the tree which is most obviously affected is the Douglas fir especially tall, mature Douglas. They are very prone to losing very large branches high up and they rarely fall unhindered to the ground. They hang up in the canopy and can be very dangerous on pathways and woodland walks. A bit of rope work to lasso the branch and haul it to the ground is often needed.
Birds and animals can suffer more, especially during prolonged snow cover. The staple of many hunters, the short tailed field vole, is fine, actually insulated by snow cover and well able to survive but owls, and kestrels canít easily get to them so can really suffer. Weasels, stoats and martens can still hear the little mice under the snow so have little problem. Wrens, tree creepers, tits and other insect eating birds can cope in the short term but, again, prolonged snow can cause real problems. Perhaps the red squirrel has the best approach. Pull the warm nest insulation around your body and snooze it off. If the sun warms up a little then pop out and snack on some saved seed. Come to think of it that might be a good approach for the gardeners to follow ...... some of our less charitable workmates might even think we already do that! Merry Christmas from Kenny and I and we hope to see you in 2013 in the lovely Palace gardens. Innes
Innes finished in 04:41:34 and came 1987 out of 4117 who completed the race. A fabulous achievement!
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