Water and ice

There was a bit of a thaw yesterday. Followed by another night of severe frost. When I woke up this morning, it was so white outside that for a moment I actually thought it had snowed during the night. But a sharp frost makes the world look much colder than a blanket of snow. Snow softens outlines and insulates the earth like a feather duvet. Frost is harsh in its crystalline angularity as it sharply defines every single leaf and twig in icy spikes and needles. It’s a beautiful morning. As the sun rises, the rosy colour of dawn changes into the high clarity of a winter’s blue sky. I slither and slide my way to the stables. The melt water from yesterday afternoon’s tentative thaw has frozen again during the night, turning our drive into an ice skating rink.

The horses are waiting for me. Minnie nickers softly when she sees me, but Cassie casts a cold eye. It is Sunday morning, it’s my one day off, so I am later than usual. When I approach her, Cassie gives me a toss of her head and impatiently stamps her foot. She is as unforgiving as the frosty morning. Besides, she is bored. I look at her and I feel her need to move, to run. Cassie is fire and ice doesn’t suit her at all. She doesn’t have Minnie’s patience. Cassie is restless after her breakfast and paws at the frozen ground. Minnie seems content to stand and dream in the sun, the only thing shaking her out of her reverie is the occasional gun shot from a hunter in the forest.

The trees start dripping in the midday sun, but the rise in temperature it is not enough to defrost the ground and thaw out the pipes leading to our well. The ground is as hard as iron and frozen deep. We still have no water and it will take a good thaw now to free our well. I find it hard to cope without water. The luxury of a daily shower. Several times a day, I turn on a tap without thinking. Even something as simple as washing my hands requires effort. The tank in the yard holds a 1000 liters of water, but we can’t get it. The cap is frozen and even pouring hot water over it doesn’t free it up. I spend an hour in the afternoon trying to defrost the hose, but although I eventually manage to get a trickle of water, it quickly freezes up again and I feel exasperated. Back to the village. I am glad I have the jeep, I couldn’t manage now without the four wheel drive. The road to the village is lethal and the track up our hill is a solid sheet of ice, only to be negotiated with maximum 4WD power. It seems ridiculous to have all these problems, but in the temperate climate of Ireland, we are not set up to deal with severe winter weather.

The track to our place. It doesn’t look it here, but it is steep, with some sharp bends. The postman hasn’t been able to come up since last Tuesday and is leaving our mail in the village.


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