Thursday, 2 December 2010


Sunsets of pinks and purple hues and the ellusive Winter hare, as white as the snow covered land which it crosses so quietly.

This year the snow has arrived so early and in such quantity, it's been called the coldest spell to hit the UK for at least 17 years. Last year at this time, I was coming back from the Scottish Borders, crossing the Lammermuirs on the Duns road, the night sky sparkling with stars, moonlight casting long shadows across the land.

A sharp chill in the air I was driving slowly, scanning the road for the shine of black ice. Near to the view point over the Forth, I slowed the car to a crawl. Such a ghostly light, all along the Forth the hills were visible, snow reflecting back the moon's light through a cloudless sky. Not enough light for a photo or maybe, just one of these special nights that, as time passes, will become all the more memorable without a photo.  A personal, private recollection which becomes like a treasured feeling inside, a unique 'magical time' to be recalled.

Just before the road winds it way down the steepest of hills, having dropped my car to the slowest crawl -out from the snow at the side of the road, a pure White Winter Hare. So beautiful I stopped immediately and it stopped too, sitting up on its hind legs. I reached for my camera on the seat beside me but then, I let it go. I love to photograph hares but, somehow, this time felt different.

The hare dropped on to all fours and came towards me. Slowly I opened the door and got out. At the front of the car I stopped and the hare made a few more slow steps towards me. I crouched down and studied this creature of such beauty. Along the moors road there were no car lights in the distance, no sounds of any sort, just stars, moonlight and an intense cold. I shivered and, as slowly as it had appeared it crossed the road and moved across the land, it's white shape merging before me in to the snow and moonlight.

I have a friend who specialises in wildlife photography and I phoned him up the next day. He gave me a very plausible explanation. Dazzled by the car headlights the hare had been stunned by the light, when the effect passed it had continued on its way... Life can be full of mysteries, sometimes it is useful to look beneath the surface, to understand what factors have created a situation. But then again, there are also times when it's as good to just go with the flow and to enjoy the moment, the special moments which nourish the soul.


A full moon shone on the Lammermuir
As winter’s chill did still the air
When from the shadows, some hidden lair
Crossed my path, a snow white hare

It stopped to watch to stand and stare
Raised up slow and sniffed the air
This quiet being with no sign of fear
Serendipity? “I saw it there”

In moonlight shadow it seemed to sway
Some enchanted dance, as if its way
To welcome in a newborn day
The year ahead, come what may

All images and copy Shona McMillan ©
All Rights Reserved

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