Snow

sunset over snowy mountain in Chile

The prompt for this week at haiku heights is the word ‘snow’.  This set me off thinking of the many places I have been where there is always snow on the mountain tops, the “Everlasting Snows”.  I think of the North West Explorer trip I did many years ago visiting Seattle, Vancouver and the wonderful national parks in USA and Canada.  I will never forget the breathtaking views we saw as we drove along the route through the glaciers to Banff and beyond.

I also remember the trip to the top of the Caucasus mountains at Krasnapolyana in Russia which I have written about before.  This beautiful place will be the setting for many of the events of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

I remember the very first time I went to Russia.  I arrived in Moscow in the evening having left the UK on a crisp Autumn morning.  The first thing I did in Moscow was go for a walk to Red Square.  As I turned into the square it started to snow gently and there I was at last, totally captivated by the sight of the magnificent multi coloured onion domes on St Basil’s cathedral.  Red Square has been the scene of some dreadful ~ and some impressive events ~ over the course of its history, but I defy anyone to see it without being instantly awed by the sheer magnificence of the whole square and its buildings, especially in the snow!

St Basil's in Red Square in the snow

St Basil’s in Red Square in the snow

Soft flakes fall gently

On sumptuous St Basil’s

White snow on Red Square

Another place with “Everlasting Snows” is the Pyrenees.  These mountains are steeped in history.  For century after century pedlars and merchants, crusaders and warriors, troubadours, shepherds and pilgrims have trekked across these mountains.   The village of Gavarnie was known as “the last village in France” in the Middle Ages on the old pilgrim route to the tomb of St. James at Santiago de Compostela.  It is a great centre for winter sports as well as summer walking now.  I have often travelled to Lourdes with groups or with friends and I have always taken a trip up the mountains to Gavarnie.  I have written about it in a previous post.  The route to Gavarnie from Lourdes takes in the Lavedan Valley, Argeles Gazost, St. Savin de Lavedan, the Chateau of Miremont, the Valley of Luz, Pic du Midi and Luz.   These are all fascinating places in their own right and St Savin is a must see village and church which seems unchanged by time.  The Cirque de Gavarnie is the most famous place in the Pyrenees, with 1,400 metres (4,400 feet) and is home to the highest waterfall in Europe.  Near Gavarnie there is an amazing statue of Our Lady of the Snows.  We often stopped to say mass there with the VIPs in our group, using a spare wheelchair as an altar!  (In Lourdes the sick, disabled or terminally ill are the VIPs.)

Our Lady of the Snows

Our Lady of the Snows

Mass in Gavarnie

A wheelchair for an altar

Snow capped sacristy

Souce of River gave at Gavarnie

Source of River gave at Gavarnie

River Gave is born

In the Everlasting Snows

Of Haute Pyrenees

Tour guides will tell you that the statue was erected by airmen after the Second World War in gratitude for making their escape across the mountains from occupied France into Northern Spain.  However, this statue was visited and blessed by Pope Pius 12th when he came to Lourdes in 1935, so I guess it might have been erected by grateful resistance fighters in earlier times.   There are many mountain passes in the Pyrenees, known as Le Chemin de la Liberte, which were secret escape routes during WW11 and one of them does pass the spot where Our lady of the Snows statue stands.  This route was taken by hundreds of Frenchmen and Jews fleeing from the Germans as well as RAF and American airmen who had either crash landed or parachuted to safety after being shot down over occupied Europe.  There was a chain of local people who hid, fed and clothed these men, at great personal risk, until the time was right for them to make their escape under cover of darkness over the mountains.  Official statistics tell us that between the years 1940 and 1944, there were 33,000 successful escapes by Frenchmen along the entire length of the Pyrenean chain.  It seems strange that we can now picnic there in the summer sun admiring the snow-capped mountains!

English: Cirque de Gavarnie gripped by frozen ...

English: Cirque de Gavarnie gripped by frozen snow in the Pyrenees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trudging through spring snows

Escaping occupation

‘Cross the Pyrenees

Pyrenees by the River Gave

Pyrenees by the River Gave

Trek through history

On high Pyrenees, scene of

trade and tragedy

Last but not least, I think of Stratton Mountain in Vermont near where my daughter lives and her husband works.  We won’t be seeing him this Christmas as he will be on the mountain as usual preparing the next generation of winter Olympians.  So I dedicate this series of haiku to him as he lives for the snow!  Jointly they run the superb ski camps known as US Elite Camps.

Stratton Mountain

Stratton Mountain

Bobsleigh, Downhill, Pipe,

Ski-jump, Slalom, Speed and Luge,

Snow capped Olympics.

slalom

Scary snow

Scary snow

 

37 thoughts on “Snow

  1. a beautiful journey indeed!

    We frequently travel to the Cevennes, about a day’s travel from the Pyrenees. I keep meaning to make the effort to get there and perhaps – with your inspirational words and images, I may!

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  2. Lovely post!! Snow is a rarity in this area of the state … although there is a slight chance for tomorrow — the last time it snowed for Christmas is in 1926.

    May the Spirit of Christmas infuse every particle of your life with blessings of joy and peace!! Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones! Thank you for this year and being YOU!!

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    • Thank you for the lovely comment Becca x I had a wonderful Christmas with my lovely family x They all turned up to see the new baby and we all gave him lots of cuddles x Happy New Year to you and yours and enjoy a Creative 2013 x x x

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    • Thank you x I had a wonderfl Christmas with everyone turning up from the 4 corners of the globe to see the new baby in the family. He slept through the whole thing but had LOTS of cuddles x Happy New Year x x x

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  3. “white snow on red square” is such a lovely line. These are all beautiful but I caught the strong contrast of white and red immediately. Awesome!

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  4. What a wonderful tour of snow-capped mountains this was. I was especially moved by your haiku depicting the spare wheelchair as an altar in a snow-capped sacristy! Merry Christmas to you!

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  5. I too love the snow. We finally had our first dusting of snow last night in the Chicago area. Our snow is not as majestic as the places you’re describing here, but I’m happy we will be having a White Christmas this year.
    Happy holidays to you and a wonderful new year!
    Karen

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