Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Northerly

I thought I knew most of the classic weather words. I also thought I had seen most of what Caithness can send our way. I was wrong. Today I learned about a northerly. A northerly combines two of my least favourite weather elements--a wind from the north, which means cold and wet in any season. And wind-driven projectiles.

For two or three days now the sun has been shining in brief glorious moments followed by rain or gloom or even the occasional, last-minute show of snow. It has cast a pall on all of us eager for spring. The blustery wind blasted the daffodils and wilted everyone's spirits. The brief sunny moments seemed more of a tease than a cause for optimism.

Today the wind was so cold that it took my breath away as I went out to search for my cats despite two coats, a long wool hat, and gloves. A north wind does not believe in a fair fight. Even indoors the kitchen was so cold that as we prepared lunch we could see our breath chilled in the air in front of us. We took the extreme measure of turning on the central heating to banish the cold to the edges of the house at least.

And then came the snow--not spring is really here but we have some snow left over so we'll just dump it here kind of snow. No. Small snow. Sharp-toothed snow riding the winds like a surfer, packing close together to obscure everything.

From the safety of the sitting room window, I can see nothing but a flurry of white. After a frenzy of white, the sun comes out again and I can see the hedge and into the fields and beyond all the way to Beinn Ratha. And then a shadow comes and the flurry begins again. Despite its ferociety and persistence, the top of Beinn Ratha shakes off the white. A few close packed grains cluster in the corners of the yard and the close, but they fade as quickly as they fell.


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