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Spanish Secrets: A Brush With Nature

…the countryside was covered in a frosty white coat. Strange undulations and unusual shapes appeared on the landscape like distorted pale marshmallows on a pure white canvas.

It was a day for staying at home, keeping warm and enjoying this rare visual delight. Unfortunately I was charged with a different task, an unavoidable trip to Santiago airport…

Snow in Galicia – and Craig Briggs, braving the elements, ventures out in his car.

To sample more of Craig’s delightful accounts of life in rural North-Western Spain click on Spanish Secrets in the menu on this page.

Last week ended in the most dramatic fashion – snow!

It’s not the first time we’ve had snow since moving to Galicia, but previous snow showers have all been light, melting quickly without trace. This weekend’s snowfall began at 9:00 am and continued for most of the day.

After several hours the countryside was covered in a frosty white coat. Strange undulations and unusual shapes appeared on the landscape like distorted pale marshmallows on a pure white canvas.

It was a day for staying at home, keeping warm and enjoying this rare visual delight. Unfortunately I was charged with a different task, an unavoidable trip to Santiago airport.

Under normal circumstances the journey takes little more than an hour. On this occasion it took three hours to reach the airport, and a further two to return home. The driving conditions were appalling, possibly the worst I’ve ever experienced.

This unusually extreme weather was in complete contrast to earlier in the week. Throughout the week, crisp and misty mornings had cleared by lunchtime revealing a cloudless blue sky. With little or no wind the bright sunshine felt warm and comforting.

In these beautiful conditions walking the dog is a real delight. Leaving the house we head up the lane and away from the village. About a mile from the house is our next neighbour.

He’s a pleasant old man whose only companion is a small, wiry haired dog, a description not too dissimilar to that of its owner. We often see him sitting on the wall in front of his house, reading a newspaper and warming his frail frame in the afternoon sun.

As we approached he greeted me warmly and offered our dog, Jazz, an open palm of friendship. I paused briefly to exchange a few words. Galician folk love nothing more than moaning about the weather. If it’s wet, it’s too wet – dry, we’ll run out of water – hot, it’s too hot – cold, it’s too cold. With the subject of the weather exhausted I bid him farewell and we continued along the lane.

A short time later the peaceful silence was broken by a shrill scream from the dense undergrowth. Jazz stopped in the lane motionless as if frozen to the spot; ears pricked and eyes wide open.

The terrifying scream moved rapidly through the dense undergrowth. A few moments later a fox ran out of the bushes and into the lane less than 50 meters in front of us.

It was a rich milk-chocolate brown colour with a darker, almost black tail protruding like a feather duster. It had sharp facial features, a slim elegant snout and pointed ears.

Jazz had seen it and for a moment she stood transfixed by this magnificent creature. Then like a greyhound leaving its trap she sprinted off in pursuit. I called for her to stop, alerting the fox to our presence. It turned and stared at us before running a little further down the lane and veered off into the security of the thick undergrowth.

The sound of my voice quickly curtailed Jazz’s pursuit. She was confused. Her natural instinct is to chase the fox, her training tells her to stop. Her excited instincts took over and she charged off again. A second instruction brings her to an abrupt halt.

For me at least, our pseudo hunt was brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

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Copyright © 2006 Craig Briggs


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