It began the night before. I could feel its presence curling around our windows and tapping at the door. Winter has arrived. This year, it has decided to arrive with a bang.
I have lived through many storms in my time. It comes with the territory when you spent your childhood on a windswept Scottish island and much of your adult life in remote Highland locations. But this was my first storm living in a tiny home, which is essentially a wooden box on a trailer. It certainly was an experience.
The night was spent with crossed fingers, as I felt the house sway in the gale force winds and was kept awake by the hail crashing against our metal cladding. I did not get much sleep this night.
The next morning was a slow one. Feeling grateful that the house was still intact, I snuggled up on the sofa with the dog and plenty of blankets and quietly read, waiting for the sun to rise.
With sub-zero temperatures, I piled on the layers and braced myself before stepping out to meet the aftermath of the storm. I was as excited as the dog to embrace this day. The first day of winter.
My feet remembered just what to do. My steps were careful yet firm as I moved between patches of snow and ice. There is something invariably comforting in the crunch of frost beneath your feet. It is as if the earth is reminding you of its solid presence. Grounding and supporting us this morning.
There have been casualties. Trees have been broken, their limbs strewn across our path. I kneel to soothe these severed limbs. Now fallen, they will become deadwood, which is an invaluable resource for wildlife and its nutrients will nourish new growth. The cycle of nature continues.
Wildlife is unprepared for our presence this morning. Many a creature bursts from their chosen shelter. Surrounding us with more life than I usually encounter on this walk. The white of the roe deer's tail and underwing of a buzzard reflects the snowy landscape. The serious task of winter has begun for them and I wish them all my luck.
As I walk, my thoughts drift. I am taken back to the my last snowfall. Those dark days in February that were the coldest I have lived through. It was a time of desperate grief for me, as I suddenly lost my beloved cat. I feel him in the snow now. I lift my face to the sky as the bracing wind moves tears from my glistening eyes. He is forever warm in my heart.
This will be my first winter living in the Cairngorms, since I moved here from Inverness. It will also be my first winter living in our tiny home. Although I am not one for traditional Christmas decorations, I cannot resist gathering a few treasures on my walk. Shooing away the dog, who is excited by the prospect of me carrying 'sticks', I soon have quite a bundle. Holding winter in my arms, I hurry home.
I find I am the most creative during the transition between seasons. My brain is filled with words to capture and my fingers itch for a paintbrush. So I was excited by the prospect of decorating our home. Luckily, I don't think you have to be too skilled a decorator to make nature look beautiful. It does it all by itself.
Before long, our home is filled with the fresh scent of pine. I listened to winter and welcomed it into our home. With numb fingers, I clasp my much deserved cup of tea and return to the cosy sofa to watch the snow fall. Its going to be a magical season.