I’ve always been somewhat disappointed at the appearance of woods in snow. This is largely because the woods tend to keep out the snow, which is captured in the upper branches and doesn’t reach the ground in any quantity. However this week we had a really decent amount of snow and it has made it to ground level. The woods has turned into a magical place.
The snow completely changes the appearance of everything. The first thing you notice is how soft the edges become – it covers the spiky vegetation with round clumps of sparkling white, and the whole outline of the trees, the bushes, the ground, the fallen logs and the ground layer changes.
The next thing I noticed is just how many active animals there are on the site. Only 24 hours since we had the snow, and yet the whole place is peppered with tracks. Rabbits have been everywhere. Foxes seem to have been everywhere. There are still a few active muntjac deer. Birds have been hopping around, trying to find some water to drink. There weren’t any badger prints today, but lots of squirrel activity – digging up their caches of nuts. The frozen ponds now have a light dusting of snow tracked by the birds and rabbits. It is nice to know that the animals make use of the paths we have created – they are obviously convenient for rabbits and foxes as well as for humans!
The fields adjacent to the woods look wonderful too. Despite the fact that there is little colour in the snow they look quite stunning – nobody has had the opportunity to walk across them, so they look white, crisp and inviting.
Snow seems to stick to the little saplings, the brambles, the brash piles and the ground vegetation much more than to the larger trees. At times it is hard to believe that this is natural because if you went out of your way to create something this beautiful you couldn’t do any better.
In the depth of this mid-winter snow, there are the faintest signs of Spring appearing – the hazel catkins are growing in size, and the buds on some of the trees are well-formed, ready for the good weather in just a few weeks’ time. And the tips of the daffodils are just starting to show above the ground.
Every time we walk around the woods, we see something new. Today we were privileged to see the place in a completely new light. Alvecote Wood has many faces, but today it was putting on its best for us in the snow.