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The Cold, The Illegal, The Homely - Snow and Wood

Posted by Mark Godsell-Fletcher on

Over the weekend, Nottingham has been decorated by the magical white stuff that makes many of us exceptionally joyful and childlike.  With each flake that falls, we find ourselves reaching for a sledge, plastic bag or anything that will enable us to enjoy this symbol of winter to the fullest.  To me snow adds to the beauty of our natural environment, walking through a park or the countryside, the contrast of the snow against the dominance of the trees is an amazing photograph for the taking.  The wonder of wood is that it compliments every season, many trees change with each season as blossoms bloom, leaves change from greens to the rich tones of the autumn and then fall to reveal the naked truth of its design.  As each tree is unique in its own way, as is each individual snowflake as every slight change in the environment influences how it is formed? winter-343512_960_720 Although you may love snow, your neighbour may not.  But don't panic, mother nature has her own powers as seen in Syracuse when the city tried to make snow illegal!  No this wasn't some strange ritual from thousands of years ago but an event which took place only in 1992.  Apparently Syracuse is used to snow as it averages 114.6 inches every winter, in fact, their local airport, Hancock Airport, has the world's biggest snow plow which has a  32-foot, 3-inch blade attached to a payloader.  But on the 30 March 1992 after an incredible 162.5 inches of snow, the Syracuse Common Council decided enough was enough and that any more snow falling before Christmas would be illegal.  Although a joke, Mother nature played one of her own and two more inches of snow fall on the 1 April, her very own April fool! touring-skis-262028_960_720 Syracuse is home to Labrador Mountain, one of New York's finest ski areas.  Skiing and other winter sports are a fantastic way to joy the snow to it's fullest, there is nothing like racing down a piste with the sun on your cheeks on a beautiful snow capped ski run.  But after a long tiring day on the slopes, you will want to go and relax in your chalet.  These stunning wooden buildings with their sloping roofs, which decorate the landscape prove how wood is still as important in house building today as it was for our ancestors.  The earliest recorded use of the word "chalet" was in Canton de Vaud in 1328, chalet described simple log cabins nothing like their luxury modern day equivalents. DSCF0606 But you may be surprised to learn that that these alpine homes synonymous with Switzerland were actually created by English and French visitors according to Dr. Edwin Huwyler, director of the Swiss Open-Air Museum Ballenberg.  Swiss companies start to offer chalets in the form of early pre-fab as demand increased.  Typically built from red pine with minimal or no finish with a stone or cement foundation their design with a shallow angled roof is distinctive.  It's exterior is often reflected internally as a chalet's interior decoration predominately matches the exterior with pine walls, ceilings, and floors.  It's hard to imagine the Swiss alps without these beautiful wooden homes which are able to withstand the harshest of winters. DSCF0592 Timber framed homes and outdoor buildings have won their way back into our hearts.  Instead of the roughly constructed garden shed, we are installing beautiful garden rooms using a selection of timbers.  From bespoke construction to oak framed to modern day kit designs, homes crafted from wood have such a warm and earthy feel about them, just like a piece of our furniture.  But why choose a wooden home rather than the commonplace bricks and mortar?  They are more energy efficient as there is less energy leakage due to the way it reacts to temperatures.  You can actually build a house in 7 days, if you purchase a kit home, no hanging around waiting for builders, never mind they are of course environmentally friendly. DSCF0623 No matter snow or shine, wood can play a vital part on how we Eat, Sleep and even where we Live, as well as giving us a stunning view to brighten the coldest days.  

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