The insistent snowdrop. Some say it is a miracle, and others a sign of hope. To me it is a reminder of the life we cannot measure.
While climate change, politics, wars and greed, rattle around the world, hope and snowdrops keep coming. You can ignore them or admire them, they don’t mind. Their pulse is not ours.
Here in England, when the Christmas lights go out in early January, Galanthus begins to push its way up through the fallen leaves. In February, as the fog thickens over layers of frost and damp, the small green shoots are stretching inch by inch to their allocated height. Then, when the time is just right, they shake out their petals like tiny linen sheets. Each hangs suspended, still as washing on a windless day. They are bright white in the gloom, immaculate and untouchable, poisonous to deer, and to rodents.
As we wilt through the drab winter, they survive – there not to surrender, but to encourage.
Not sure if this photograph can give you a sense of just how cold it was in the wind today at Stokes Bay, Gosport. We’d come to have lunch at Pebbles Fish and Wine Bar.
It was only once inside, warm and waiting for food, that we saw through the window the stone commemorating the Canadian troops who took part in the D Day landings. It’s not a big stone.
This evening I did a little research. It seems that right where we’d been enjoying delicious fresh fish and hot chips, young Canadian service personnel had once packed the beach front, preparing to launch themselves into a war thousands of miles from home. I can’t imagine how they felt, preparing to fight for, and against, nations many of them may never even have visited.
Other than the rock we saw no sign of them, nor of the docks from which they set off. The only traces I did see were in the freedom of the windblown families who came and went around us.
On a day when the sun neither came nor went, we decided to go for a drive to the fishing village of Elantxobe. We wound up and down through wooded hills, until we found it gleaming beneath us.
We parked beside the fishing boats, and wandered out along the wide concrete arms of the harbour. It was hard to imagine storms in the calm, but the muscle in those protective limbs made it clear that the town remembered.
From the harbour we took the cobbled street that twisted up through the houses behind. It was so steep that we abandoned it after a short while, opting instead to walk back up to a cafe we spotted on the edge of the road we’d just driven down. This boulder was outside the cafe. Below it was a sign which said that the rock weighed 301kg, and that it had been thrown to that point by the storm of the 30th of January 1990.
Suddenly the geography and forces of nature surrounding the little harbour became much clearer.