Islay has been experiencing winter weather such as hasnâ€™t been seen here for very many years. With local weather-watchers reporting only about 4mm of rainfall during the first six weeks of 2010, this has been very different from the usual average of about 250mm total for January and February. With glorious dawn-to-dusk sunshine on many days, thereâ€™s hardly been any resemblance to the usual seasonal rain and gales. The windless conditions on many days and nights allowed hard frosts to settle, and ice once formed scarcely thawed even in the sunshine as daytime temperatures often didnâ€™t rise above freezing.
Geamhradh reÃ²thtanach, Earrach ceÃ²thanach, Samhradh breac-riabhach is Foghar geal grianach, cha dâ€™fhÃ g gorta riamh ann an Alba. (Frosty winter, misty Spring, chequered Summer and sunny Autumn never left dearth in Scotland).Though the weather has been very cold, Islayâ€™s scenery has been amazingly beautiful and many photos have been taken of the unusually snowy local landscapes. In Bridgend, walkers have been treated to the delightful annual display of wild snowdrops blooming in the Wood, a sight thought by many to be one of the prettiest and most looked-forward-to times in the Islay year.
An old story in the late Peggy Earlâ€™s collection, â€œTales of Islay, Fact and Folkloreâ€ tells legends of snowdrops; â€œSnowdrops were said to be unlucky if taken into the house, and perhaps they may have been connected with death. However, there is a rather pretty story connected with them. When Eve was turned out of the Garden of Eden, she was very sad and wept bitterly. Her hot tears ran down her cheeks and there was snow on the ground. The tears melted the snow, and when Eve looked down there appeared the most beautiful flowers ever seen. For each tear, a beautiful flower had sprung up - a snowdrop.â€
The Heatherhouse at Caol Ila with the Paps of Jura, March 2010. Image courtesy Claudio Riva.
This story was published with kind permission of the Ileach local newspaper.