Week 5: Words from the Wild! Snow! 03.02.2021

(This blog is produced as part of the eco-therapy project at St Nicks Nature Reserve in York. To find out how to get directly involved please click here.)

Dear Readers,

I am writing this on Tuesday, ready to be posted on Wednesday morning. Today we woke up to a blanket of snow covering everything, William and I had seen that snow was forecast so thought that it would be nice to use snow as a theme for our class this week. For those new to this blog – we have combined our usual book club with creative writing tasks to create this online resource to help people to connect to nature from home. This term we have been focusing on poetry but have taken a break from poems this week to explore snow in more detail!

We chose an extract from the book 50 Words For Snow by Nancy Campbell to inspire today’s session. In the book Nancy looks at 50 words for snow from around the world, exploring cultural reference and meaning. Using this as our inspiration and exploring snow through writing you will find today’s writing tasks below this video I took of the snow on the Knavesmire in York to help us get in the mood for a snow themed class:

Task 1: (5 mins) Words for Snow. List as many words as you can to describe snow. Think about how it falls and lands. What is it like when it settles? What happens as it melts? What words do you associate with snow? Is it exciting, or do you think about being cosy indoors? Write down all the words that come to mind.

Task 2: (5 mins) Using our words. In Robert MacFarlane’s book Landmarks he has researched the meanings of words and place. At the end of each chapter is a glossary of words associated with landscape – that are now often forgotten or unused. Here are some words that I found in Landmarks that are associated with snow and ice: Blenk, clinkerbell, fleeches, frazil, smored, verglas, windle. Without knowing the true meaning of these words can you build them into a paragraph about snow – using them alongside words from the first task? Try to think about how the words sound and what you imagine them to describe about ice and snow. You might like to describe a walk down a snowy path to get you started.

Task 3: (10 mins) In 50 Words for Snow – we used an extract describing ‘Seanáš’ which is a Sami word describing granulated snow. Write about the experience of creating a snowman. How easy is it to find the perfect snow to do this. How does it feel to roll a snowball? What happens if the snow is too wet, or to fluffy?

Task 4: (5 mins) Tracks in the Snow. In the extract that we looked at from 5o words of Snow, the author describes a cave painting that was made 14,000 years ago in a Welsh cave depicting Reindeer. The author reflects on the movements of Reindeer across the land and how at one time they would have roamed across Southern Europe and even New Mexico. Have you ever noticed any unusual tracks in the snow? Today the field was full of dog paw markings. When I visited Austria there were lots of deer and rabbit / hare prints in the snow. Imagine walking across an untouched field on a snowy day. You notice some unusual tracks. Write about what you find and where the tracks lead.

I hope that everyone else got to enjoy the view of some snow this week! I would love to hear what you have been up to. For anyone interested in cheering up the views for other people there is a fantastic window exhibition initiative happening nationally – please see the link here: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2021/jan/28/great-big-art-exhibition-invites-locked-down-brits-to-put-creativity-on-show

See you next week!
Best wishes,

Published by Emma

Hi my name is Emma! I am a writer and artist. I work for the NHS at Converge (www.yorksj.ac.uk/converge) and I am also an MA graduate in Creative writing and am currently studying for a PhD in Humanities. I have been leading a creative writing class at the beautiful St Nicks in York (www.stnicks.org.uk) for the last five years. When I am not at work I'm on my allotment or at Base Camp (my home) planning new adventures.

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