>Shades of Spring

>What a difference a day makes. Or so it’s said. Certainly here today is entirely different: the place is in full sun and though the temperature started at around a positively balmy -5 at 07:33 this morning – when Charlie decided it was time to be up and about, by purring loudly in my snugly pillowed ear and padding on the edge of the bed before bashing me affectionately on the nose, it is now hovering on zero – neither one thing nor another. But a pleasant enough change after the awful temps of recent weeks.

Charlie normally spends his time outdoors hunting but it has been just too cold for him this month, save for the odd foray for mice in our woodstore, behind the house. Constrained indoors by the inclement weather and temperatures, he engages in ‘virtual hunting’, nose pressed to the kitchen window as he drools over the small birds on the nut-feeder just outside the window to the side of the house.

Despite Charlie’s importunate behaviour this morning, I only struggled out to the loo for a quick pee before grabbing another 1.5 hour kip.  The fox was already scrabbling in the snow below the birch tree with its bird feeders. By the time I did surface, it was long-gone; so no breakfast today, then. It usually takes another run-past in the late afternoon, so I’ll get its tucker ready for later.

One of the things that surprises me up here is the type of birds that stay around and mostly survive the winter. It’s not the bigger species – though we have the usual Hooded Crows, Magpies and Ravens – no, it’s the Redpolls, tiny colourful balls of near weightless feather, Snow-Buntings, Great & Blue Tits, and flocks of magically colourful Bullfinches. We don’t have Robins here but the brilliant orange of the Bullfinch breasts more than compensate at Xmas!

The photo at the head of the page shows our house with some of its outbuildings: the far left is the Bagarstuga, an old bakehouse which according to our neighbour, a keen local amateur historian, was originally traditionally used by groups of wintering Sami Reindeer herdsmen. They used it as a base while their  animals grazed the surrounding fields. It was a makeshift maternity unit for the Sami woman who gave birth in it. Any stillborn/deaths were disposed of on a small island in the centre of the nearby lake.

It is a fine old building, dating from around 1850 – and still standing! We use it for storage and carve paths to it through the snow, which would otherwise be over knee-high. It’s easy to track the local wildlife – Moose, Fox!, Lynx & Deer (Red and Rein) – which leave a deep spoor in the surrounding white-stuff. Hares are among the most interesting, especially when in their white winter coats, though they look a bit piebald in Spring.

The Moose are prized by local hunters. Huge animals with ‘oven-gloves’ for antlers (as Bill Bryson says), they are widespread in the forests. And make great curry. The meat is marvellous, definitely a treat we will miss. When our local hunting syndicate have a surplus kill they sell us the odd half beast.  It is not gamey meat but more like very lean, top quality beef with a texture similar to lamb. Highly recommended tucker!

 The remainder of the buildings are (L to R): forrad (store/workshop); garage and cold-store; main house. When we first viewed it prior to purchase, we had no idea that there was anything other than the house itself. We were astonished to find the others and a largely level near 5000 sq metre garden were included in the sale price.

Now we are on the verge of leaving and preparing to put the place on the market for sale. A German neighbour has taken pix of the interior in readiness. We are dreading emptying the place; 5000 books in the sitting-room make it hard work, packing. There’s another 1000 or more stashed in the Bagarstuga. We plan to come back up and collect them all later in the year.  We must be mad!!

And apropos of nothing much: here’s a piccy of J enjoying herself, playing in the snow!

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About yractual

A former lawyer and national daily journalist, now a freelance music journalist, with moves bewteen Spain, Sweden, France and who knows where next! A Scot by birth and inclination. Lover of acoustic ragtime-blues guitar and ukulele. Work with music titles across three continents.
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