Birmingham Botanical Gardens in the Snow | March 2018
At the start of winter I hoped for snow and for the first time in five years it came. I love snow, as it covers the detritus of a big city in mid-winter and makes the world seem brighter and more inviting. Winter in the UK is usually mild, grey and damp. It stretches on for what feels like eternity, and is more of an endurance than a pleasure. Winter is the season I dread, but snow breaks up the monotony and makes it seem more interesting.
We have had two big snowfalls in Birmingham this winter. The first snow came at the start of December, closing schools for two days and covering up the last of the autumn leaves with a 20cm deep carpet of pure silk white. Heavy snow is quite rare in the UK, and so we don’t have the infrastructure for it. As a result, everything slows down, schools close, the roads are blocked, and trains don’t run. Snow is quite an event, and the language that accompanies it tends towards the apocalyptic end of the spectrum. I find it entertaining. Ed and I are lucky. We’re young and we live in a big city. Snow isn’t a problem for us like it is for the elderly and those who live in the middle of nowhere. So, while I understand why a snow storm is such an event in the UK, to me it’s a source of enjoyment during a season which is otherwise quite dull.
It snowed again this week, but I thought that Birmingham would be largely unaffected this time around, and we were until Thursday. It snowed all day on Thursday and by the evening, cars on the middleway were struggling to get up the hill, taxis were abandoned on minor roads, and schools across the Midlands had called a snow day for Friday. I walked to the gym through sleepy Edgbaston on Thursday night and enjoyed watching the snow dance as the wind caught at in gusts, whilst listening to Ólafur Arnalds’ ‘Living Room Songs’ through my headphones. It was a magical evening, if a little surreal to see such heavy snow in March. The snow this time around is a different kind of snow, it’s really fine, almost like icing sugar, so the drifts are particularly beautiful to see and to watch. It swirls and blows around like dust on a summer’s evening. I love watching the snow fall, I find it hypnotic.
Yesterday afternoon with an unexpected day off work, Ed and I headed to the Botanical Gardens. We were the only people there which made for a peaceful hour in the glasshouses, enjoying the light streaming through the snow covered panes and jasmine. The cockatoo swung himself down off his perch to come and say “hello”, but the cat politely but resolutely declined my request for a cuddle by turning her back and skulking away across the terracotta tiles. She had hot pipes to sit on and three portions of food in her bowl. I was surplus to requirement.
I’ve enjoyed this latest round of snow, but I’m ready for spring now. I can’t wait for cherry blossom season, for sunsets after 7pm, and for evening walks without scarves and coats. Most of all, I’m looking forward to the return of the light. It’s what I miss most throughout the winter months. I am drawn most to natural light, to the cool pastel shades of spring and summer, and to the outdoors. I miss feeling creative, and while it’s been good to get back to my music this winter, I’ve missed making photos and films and can’t wait for the new season to arrive with weddings to film, new projects to get stuck into and more light!