A walk in the woods and a self portrait

I need to get out and about, it clears my head and gets me moving. It lets me breathe.

In the mountains the weather can change rapidly, you start out in good weather and an hour later you can be enveloped in cloud left wondering which way is down. You need to be wrapped up and ready.

I have to be prepared to go out and walk in any weather, not just the bright sunshine blue sky days.

We’re expecting temperatures as low as -20 this week, and that doesn’t factor in the wind chill. My mind doesn’t compute that.

Different days bring different walks, and different walks bring different sights and sensations. It’s never the same.

Today’s’ walk a modest 3 miles it’s a lively -5 and it’s gouky out there. The visibility is appalling, the light levels are flat. And there is deep snow. It makes walking a bit more challenging. But its gorgeous snow.

The snow is falling straight, there is no wind today, but my mind is swirling around. Whirring and whizzing. There’s a stillness out there in the woods today that only snow can bring.

Will there be any photos from today? Or should I use those I took at the weekend?  That’s it you are warming up now, this IceBreaker top is aptly named.

Walking makes me stop and pause, listen and look, ponder and consider, and wonder. I get glimpses of the path ahead, twisting and turning.

It’s quiet out here today. I’m the first person up the track this morning. My own private world. The birds are quiet, they are sensibly tucked up in the trees, sheltering.

Another session at the Physio tomorrow. Will it hurt as much as Monday? Will the news be better this time? I’ve rested it more so maybe, just maybe.

My mind rattles on. I can barely see the track in front of me. The snow is deeper in parts, 5 inches probably more. I have to concentrate on where I’m going. Where my feet are planted. But it’s snowing so I have my hood up and my face pointed down to look where I’m walking. Could I call it walking? Snow shuffling seems more apt.

Come on, stop, look around, look up.

Focus on the here and now. This is what you can do right now. This is where you are at right now. You are not on crutches. This isn’t permanent. There are positives. It’s beautiful out here, even in the gouk.

There’s uphill and downdales to negotiate. I wonder what I’ll write about today, there’s the walks I’m doing or maybe another recipe. What will the title be? Does that matter right now. You know the answer. Come on, focus.

There’s not a soul to be seen so far. No, I spoke too soon, a group of ski tourers pass me by on a lower trail. Ooooph that must take real energy! I’ll just stop here and catch my breath.

But here I am, an arm in a sling, a walking pole in my hand, carefully does it girl. Watch where you are going. No rush.

But what about the post the other day about buying supermarket carrots. You sounded like a food snob! I know that’s not what you meant. Remember you are lucky to be able to grow your own food to know what great food tastes like. You are lucky. You are here in the mountains.

The trees are heavy with snow today. Sometimes there are crystals to gaze at. They look like fury spiky white caterpillars.

I can hear a stream now, I can barely see it for the snow.  Ha! a picnic table, no chance of me sitting and admiring the view today, it’s all murky out there.

There’s that post about potatoes that you need to finish let alone the ordering to do. I need to find the words. Well if you don’t start it you never will.

I look back, and only my tracks are visible. The colours are white, grey whites, dark greens of the pines, barks of silver birch shine out.

Hmm, going home next week for a visit, what will I do on the allotment? Well, there’s no shifting that pile of compost one-handed is there! Stop. Focus on the now, deal with that when you get home.

What’s this? A runner? Out here, in this? I suddenly feel very sane. The snow kicks up around my boots, it’s soft to the touch. The skiers will be whooping and whizzing! But I bet they don’t have the place to themselves like I do.

Nearing the village now, you can hear a few voices. I can here a snowblower. It sounds like a lawnmower except it’s not summer and there’s no grass being mowed, just piles and piles of snow to shift.

My secret weapons have done me proud again. My Crampons. They have made it possible for me to go walking. I have some grip in the snow and ice. Maybe not on the world. But then that might be expecting a bit much for a pair of crampons!

Time to go home, shower and change. a cup of tea and maybe a bite to eat. The arm is sore, but maybe that’s because it’s healing. And sometimes you feel that too.

Another day tomorrow. Maybe another walk. Maybe a clear sky. Maybe more snow. I know it will be cold they are predicting at least -8. I know whatever the weather the mountains and woods are stunning.

And the self-portrait?



  • I’m a fairly new blogger, so maybe you’ve been “freshly pressed” before I arrived to wordpress? if not, why not? Yours is EXACTLY what blogging is about! Quite simply, you rock!!

    • Hi there, that is so kind of you! And no I haven’t been “pressed”. Blogging is a strange thing, you start out, on your own, and at some point you find like minded bliggers, and suddenly your perspective changes, there are others reading your work, there is encouragement and lots of it. Appreciation is always special. Thank you 🙂

  • Great post, Claire! I love taking a walk after a snow storm. Whether late at night or very early in the morning, it’s just Max and me enjoying the stillness and the beauty of it all. Of course, this is hardly the sights and grandeur of the Alps but the quiet is the same. Having undergone physical therapy a couple times, I hope tomorrow’s session is relatively pain-fre for you. Thanks for taking me on your walk today.

    • Walks are always good, no matter what the scenery or grandeur, there is always something to enjoy. And even better for you as you have great company in Max 🙂

    • Thanks Steve, I have a lot of fun trying to capture what the mountains look and feel like, it’s not always easy with low light levels. I love cities with snow, I remember a few times in London when there was snowfall, and the city would literally grind to a halt, you could walk down normally busy roads, uninterupted. A very special kind of stillness.

  • The photos are stunning and it´s great that you are still able to enjoy and appreciate the beautiy fo what you have where you are despite your injury. I do hope that things are improving for you health wise. Fingers crossed 😉

  • Great post. I sometimes wish my brain could be as silent as the snowy woods, but I’m like you…it just won’t stop… 🙂
    Thanks for the walk, and good luck at Physio!

    • Thanks Marie, I try and do some meditation with my Yoga, but as my mind whirrs it’s never quite what I imagine meditation to be! One thing I have discovered is that I’m not alone with this !

  • It’s -3C here, Claire. Stiff wind coming in from the east but the sky is vivid blue with an occasional puff of white cloud. Lovely day here; sounds like yours is lovely there, too.

  • Fabulous walk and now i am chilled to the bone! That arm is such a bother! and you are right -relax!! Hope you had a lovely doctored hot chocolate when you got in! c

  • Oh dear Claire, you are so nice… and brave according to me. And also sportsman too. I admire what you did… To be honest, I am not like you, even the snow in here, is not like in there 🙂 The photographs are so beautiful, so beautiful and I can imagine the fresh air… should be so nice to breathe there… But on the other hand, I tried to put myself in your shoes… made me worry and afraid to walk there… Maybe this is what I don’t have any experience with this kind of snowy days… Even I have never wanted to go to winter sports places in the mountains of my country. There are some famouse places near to my city but I never wanted. Anyway, once again I should say, I watched and read you with a great pleasure and admire… I hope and wish your arm will be better soon. Thank you, Blessing and Happiness, with my love, nia

    • Hi Nia, I think when you are set up and prepared for snow it’s ok, even fun! I’ve bought myself some walking poles and some crampons for my boots so I’m much better at walking and less likely to slip. But I still have to take extra care. Thank you for your kind words. Claire

  • Beautiful! I wish we would get some snow. Our temps have been so mild. Your post would fit in so well with This Grandmother’s Garden blog – Walk in the Garden meme. Your photos are beautiful here and inspire me to still hope for snow…Welcome to Blotanical!

    • Snow does help gardeners doesn’t it, with mild winters I just worry about the snail and slug population surviving to wreak havoc in my garden!
      I haven’t come across This Grandmother’s Garden Blog, I’ll have to go and have a look.
      But I do have to say one thing about your blog – you quote Tagore! beautiful! and thanks for the welcome, I’m still exploring Blotanical, there’s so much to read and savour !

  • That is just so beautiful. It’s like something you’d expect to see on a postcard. How amazing. Such a contrast to my own surroundings. I would love to experience that setting just once in my lifetime.

  • I enjoyed walking with you in the silence of the alps. I’ve also been catching up with your posts and I certainly don’t think you are a food snob. Once you have enjoyed food fresh from the garden, it is hard to go back to commercially grown food.

    • Thank you Karen. you know its a strange thing growing your own food, as my partner and I like to go out to restauarants, but we’ve become well and truly spoiled by having our own vegetables. The taste difference, even in good restaurants is amazing.

    • On reflection, maybe. Perhaps an explanation? It was a moment, me trying to take a photo of my sling getting covered in snow. It amused me. But I kept managing to cut my head off so to speak. So yes probably for me, my humour, and a reminder of a place and time. But I thought of it as capturing a moment and as something to share on here. Isn’t that part of what blogging is about (the mix of personal and sharing)? But I guess sometimes things get missed or passed by. Appreciate you popping in 🙂

  • Thanks for letting us tag along in your private thoughtful moments. A magical walk in your winter wonderland, just stunning!

  • I have been “catching up” on your posts; these photos are so beautiful. Our winters here seem to bounce around between snow, freezing rain, and rain – not nearly so pretty.

    • Thank you, everywhere I look there is a photo opportunity! We’ve been lucky this year, last year was warm and wet in this part of the alps, so everyone is having a great time 🙂

  • This wonderful stream-of-consciousness writing makes me feel not only that I’m along on the walk with you–almost that I *am* inside your pretty head. I feel the cold gripping my lungs, hear the birds rustling in the branches, see the foggy coverlet of hanging snow and mist and sense the nearness of the sharp frost fringes as you lean in to take their portraits. A fabulous outing!

    • Kathryn – so poetic! and something I’m not! But I’m pleased you liked our walk together. I’m sure there will be more. I kind of like the format- the words and the photos, fairly brief, but trying to paint a picture of where I am and how I am, and generally the not knowing

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