Returning home following a few weeks away during which heavy snow had been followed by a spell of deep cold, then a thaw as Atlantic low pressure systems swept across Scotland. And now, the cold has returned.
A Friday evening flight into Aberdeen, the small turboprop aircraft making a bumpy approach as the pilot evaded a snowstorm. Stepping out of the airport terminal building into a whirling world of white; the air sharper, colder. A tricky drive home on snowy roads, just enough grip to be safe.
After the bustle and noise of the south of England, waking to stillness. A look out of the window showed another snow shower; time for another cup of tea before getting up. Then a blink of sunshine - the day too good to be indoors.
Out into a morning of patchwork sun and snow showers. The land returned to winter in one night, the ground still cold so the snow lies easily.
A walk on one of the higher forest tracks abandoned; calf-deep snow not quite consolidated enough to bear weight making for heavy going. Returning to the valley for a walk along the river and through the birch woods instead, the snowfall lighter here.
Winter seems to have returned here too. But, amongst the tiny, quiet contact calls of a flock of Tits moving through the wood a new sound, familiar but half forgotten. One Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) belling a territorial call; not quite yet the exuberant call he'll use in Spring, but nevertheless, one small brave voice confident of Spring's return, his calls lighting up the wood.
Appropriate today too because this is Imbolc, one of the four Celtic seasonal festivals, this one falling half way between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. Some stone circles and standing stones are thought to have alignments to this time of the year.
Along the river, two Dippers (Cinclus cinclus) were flying low over the water, their sharp "Zzip!" calls a familiar sound. But here too, something else. Barely audible above the sound of the river, one bird singing; a chattering, burbling song which sounds so reminiscent of water over stones.
Feburary here is normally the hardest month of the winter, the weather can be savage. But; the sun is now above the horizon for eight hours a day. The birds know it, and soon there will be other signs.
Spring will return, but not quite yet.