online: 13 january 2003

9 january 2003 a walk in the snow

Walking on the heath in the snow - wearing a thermal vest.

ice on all three ponds
one third of ponds 1 and 2 is frozen
and all of pond 3
why the difference?
is it that pond 3 is surrounded by trees and thick undergrowth
that retain cold static air
not admitting the warm west wind?

a heron on the floating island

all the seagulls are facing the wind

I find several men erecting a fence near pond 1 and ask why. One tells me that the ground has subsided a few feet and may slip further. There are men inside the fence examining the ground - which seems to have slipped down-hill towards the water. It seems to me to be a small sliding mud cliff - not the collapse of the strata below, as in mining subsidence.

As I walk on I notice grasses, shrubs and trees silhouetted against the snow. Each branch carries a streak of snow that makes its form very visible.

At the viaduct pond I see snow that has fallen on ice in unimaginable patterns that I cannot describe... visual poems without words.

A man sees me writing and stops to ask if I am writing a poem. He tells me he used to walk on Walthamstowe Marsh where he took over a picnic table as his outdoor office... 'You get many ideas there' he said.

I saw a man photographing something close to the ground. He told me it was a spider in the snow and he lifted it up to show me. It had very long legs. I spoke of the low resistance of small creatures to cold and of the scale effect which gives larger creatures a greater ratio of volume to surface area, and hence less heat loss - and how each organism is the right shape for its size. Compare spiders and elephants!...

...As I walked on I felt touched by the sight of that spider surviving in the snow - perhaps in a warm enough micro-climate among leaves and grasses - or perhaps freezing?... And now it has been photographed by someone and has been described by someone else - and I suppose it doesn't know it!

At Parliament Hill (or Kite Hill as some call it) I see a man tobogganing on a piece of cardboard, lying prone as he does so. I like seeing adults enjoying childish things - and I feel tempted to do the same but my pride or my age stops me from doing it - and I feel sorry I didn't.

As I was looking at London in the snow a man and a woman asked me to photograph them against the view of the city. We talked briefly of the unusually clear air - we could see the hills beyond Greenwich.

Back home I enjoyed cooking and eating soup with bread and humous - and then apricots and tahini in goat's yoghurt, with walnuts. And nettle tea. Just writing the names of such foods makes me feel nourished.

'And now I am wearing a normal vest - and resting'

I typed this note feeling that it is of more significance than the thoughts about the future of industrial living that I wrote in daffodil 14 (sent out yesterday)... But no - 'all things are equally important'! Utopia and Numeroso and Unesco, and the mythical reader and writer, are waiting for the symposium to continue. I wonder if the spider is still alive?

what's new


digital diary archive

© 2002 john chris jones

You may transmit this text to anyone for any non-commercial purpose if you include the copyright line and this notice and if you respect the copyright of quotations.

If you wish to reproduce any of this text commercially please send a copyright permission request to jcj at