Icicles and animal tracks: winter at the House at Nab End

Snow has gathered on the roof of the House at Nab End, and funneled itself into a miniature avalanche in a south-facing corner where two roof angles meet.  Caught by the gutter – newly installed, but now distorted by the snow’s weight – this soft, white, slow-moving glacier has formed icicles, welding itself to the shiny black plastic so that attempts at removal would only cause further damage.

January 2013 027

Looking out of the window below, the trees of the copse are picked out in charcoal and white chalk against a sky of thick, grey sugar paper.

long copse

The wood’s inhabitants leave their tracks in the snow.  A firmly worn path passes the grandiflora, and is probably the trail of a domestic cat.


But other journeys and skirmishes suggest squirrel, fox, magpie and rook.

tracks 3

Mapped out on the snowy lawn, they become histories in a diminutive landscape.

tracks 2

Further away, the fields and woods in the distance have their own tales to tell.  The tracks across the garden at Nab End echo the path of pilgrims that once traversed the “Singing Way” through Wytham Woods, while the birds in the fields pick their way amongst fossils that belie the landscape’s past life as a vast Jurassic coral reef.


But these are tales that will wait for another day, when the ice has melted and the animals make their way through the garden without trace.


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