Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Nearly Narnia. Snow... oh, oh!

Lucy discovers the land of Narnia when she hides in an old wardrobe.  One moment she is pushing her way in between old fur coats and other garments, and the next she is tumbling out of the back of the wardrobe into a land that is deep in snow.  Of course this all takes place in a children's story by C. S. Lewis, "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe".  As a child, I did try to find Narnia through the back of our wardrobe at home, but the plywood back remained firm, and the jackets and trousers on their hangers, tickled my ears and brushed my neck.  In the books that concern Narnia, it was mostly children that found the way to that world, although there were some notable exceptions.

I think we found Narnia last Sunday evening, or that it came very close to us.  Snow began falling with real purpose through Sunday afternoon, and, by nightfall, there was a good covering of it over everything outside.  About 10.30 at night, I wrapped up warmly and took the camera out for what I thought would be a fairly futile attempt at capturing some of the scene by night.  The snow made things hazardous, it was a little too wet and turned to ice under foot, but I made my way beside our house to where I could get a view of the snow under our trees; and there was Narnia!  The orange glow of a street light made puddles of pale colour on the snow between the trees.  The light contrasted with the dark blue shadows and the charcoal grey of the tree trunks.  Away from the light, everything merged with a gloom that was so complete that the uncertain lines of branches and trunks seemed to vibrate.  What I saw was like the description of that place in Narnia where a gas lamp glows in the depths of a snow covered forest.  I found myself looking for Mr Tumnus the fawn, hoping that I would see him stepping daintily amongst the pools of light and shade.

In the morning I did find little footsteps in the snow, but I think they belonged to someone other than a fawn!

That night I took a few photos under the trees, and a photo of Laura's wooden construction that fills in where our side gate should be (the real gate was stolen a few months ago, and I have yet to replace it).  Something about the side "gate" reminded me of paintings by the American artist, Edward Hopper (of Nighthawks fame).  The black silhouette of the "gate" contrasted with the  butter yellow colour of the lamp lit snow.  To my joy, the photos actually did turn out with a little "tweaking" with Gimp (a wonderful free image editor).

In the morning I took a few more photos by daylight of a world that was white.  A bitterly cold gale kept my time outside short.  We had more snow than the fall of snow we had about three weeks ago, but this snow kept thawing, then building, then thawing again, so it did not accumulate as much as it might have.  The main road to Dunedin was blocked Sunday night and most of Monday, so we enjoyed relative peace, but the snow was less friendly than before, and we did worry about the sheep and the new lambs that are starting to appear at this time.

Interestingly, this snow was something of a record setter, as it did snow a little in Auckland in the North Island.  Auckland usually enjoys a sub-tropical climate and hardly knows frost or real cold, so snow in the air was a big topic on the 6 oclock news on Monday evening.  Indeed there was some debate as to the difference between hail, sleet, and snow, as some unkind commentators had attempted to question the validity of Auckland's claim.  Expert opinion had to be summoned to settle things!  According to records, Auckland last enjoyed snow on 27 July, 1939 (see Auckland in wiki under the heading, "climate").  In a world that is beset with so many woes, it is refreshing to see that a sprinkling of snow in a mostly warm city can grab headlines!

On the potting front... I am currently firing a test fish jug and some other pots and glaze tests. I want to be certain that I get the glaze right for the coil built fish jug, so I am doing this firing to make sure that I know what I am doing!


gz said...

The snow reminds me of what we'll probably have in a few short month's time...

cookingwithgas said...

Snow! As I sweated here in the 90's.
We have friends visiting the area now and I hope they get to see some snow while they are there.

Arkansas Patti said...

Ah, that snow looks soooo good. Wondeful photos Peter, your camera eye matches your potting eye.
That second one took me right into Narnia.
Interesting how you have such vastly different of climates in New Zealand.

Eleanor said...

Just so you know Uncle P - the snow in NZ made the newspapers here. complete with a photo. I thought that was a bit extreme. We get a lot worse snow here. Amusingly enough people assumed that it was snowing in the middle of summer (probably why it made the newspaper)

Peter said...

Hello Gwynneth,
I love the photos you post of the walks that you take along the lanes and up the hills. I guess that your landscape needs the cold and rain as well as the warmth to maintain its beauty!

Hi Meredith,
"the 90s" I am mentally calibrated in Celsius, so temperatures like that are even more impressive!! I visualise steam rising in your studio!! If your friends are anywhere near us, we'd be delighted to see them if they would like to drop in.

Hi Pat,
Glad you enjoyed the snow. I hope that my "virtual" snow contribution is helping bring temperatures to more acceptable levels in Arkansas! Thanks for the nice comment regarding the photos, I do regard the night time ones as being "lucky" accidents really, but it is nice to have been able to take away a little memento of that lovely scene! The funny part of living in this area in the South Island of NZ is that we really can get 4 seasons in one day. Antarctica just needs to pucker its lips and blow in our direction and temperatures take a dive right away!

Hello Eleanor,
Lovely to hear from you. I think that we really must have a flat earth after all if people near you think that we share the same season... Maybe the world is flat and the round earth thing is all a conspiracy!!!! (just kidding!). Of course some people in this part of NZ find the attention that Auckland received from the snow rather amusing too... , but it must have been fun to have been in Auckland seeing the white stuff floating down!

Angie said...

I think those night shots are brilliant ...such atmosphere ...where else but the day time shots too but find it hard to believe that you have snow in August.
Good luck with the glazes.

smartcat said...

Narnia and Middle Earth? New Zealand must have a true weird about it.

Discovered your blog while scrolling through Wikiclay. Most enjoyable!

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,
Thanks for the pictures. Where are the snow angels?
I have Russell coming to visit me next month, the chap who nearly brought me to see you when we were in NZ.
Looking forward to that.
keep warm.

Peter said...

Hello Angie,
I'm finding the snow in August a bit unexpected too... It certainly is not unknown here, but we had almost looked like we would miss winter completely this year as June and July were warmer than they should have been... The flowers are all confused, we've had daffodils and plum blossom out for some time..

Hello Smartcat,
Good to hear from you, welcome to my blog, glad that you are enjoying it. Thanks to the film industry NZ has been inhabited by Hobbits, various witches, wizards, talking animals, and young children with swords and bows! It really is becoming quite hazardous for ordinary folk!

Hi Hannah,
lovely to hear from you. What fun that Russell will be coming to see you, I'd completely lost touch as to where he was. I think the last reported sighting was somewhere in Australia heading for the gold fields or something!
The snow angels were concerned that they might freeze this time... the wind was particularly chilly.. but you never know when they might appear (a bit like Russell!!) Do send him greetings from us in NZ.

Pat - Arkansas said...

Lovely Narnia photos, Peter; I found them enchanting. What a wonderful place you live in.

I suppose it will not be long until we have our own snowfall, but in almost 100F heat it seems unthinkable.

Someone stole your gate? Good Grief!

Peter said...

Hello Pat,
Isn't it wonderful that it is possible to be enchanted by the "little things" that we can see around us so close to home. Snow certainly does do magic by its habit of changing the everyday into something special.

I do wonder about that gate... why someone bothered to take it. It wasn't even nice looking, just metal pipe and steel mesh.. Just a real nuisance, time and money that we don't really have to replace it..

Armelle said...

Nice photos of Narnia Peter !!! I love fairy tales and I saw Narnia at the movies with a nephew, some years ago, what a pleasure. Hope it's not too cold at home, here the summer was as hot as autumn.
I also like yours latest posts and the experiences with oil drip reduction are very interesting.

Peter said...

Bonjour Armelle,

Ici, à Waikouaiti, aujourd'hui, il fait beau, le soleil brille!

Really nice to hear from you, and I am glad that Narnia reached you in France! The C. S. Lewis Narnia books were part of my childhood (and I still read them), and I also enjoyed the movie that was based on "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe".

There are still some small patches of snow on the hills, but now the weather is getting warmer, and today it feels like Spring.

Best Wishes from All of us here (Ginger sends special greetings as I write this!). P.