It wasn't snow when I opened the curtains this morning. It was frost.
A thick blanket of frost. The kind that sits deep on mosses and creeps along frozen branches.
After the decorations have been taken down (even the vintage glass Soviet mushrooms) and the last piece of smoked salmon enjoyed, order gradually returns to the house. It is a natural pause when everything holds its breath for a week or two, and I'm given the rare gift of time. I like to drop off the face of the earth for a while; put the auto-reply on the email and indulge in later, more leisurely mornings. Late breakfasts. Afternoon fires. I give myself permission to ease off on the accelerator (too much go-go-go) and come down off the ceiling.
Take time to think, I mean really THINK. It's January, after all, and an instinctive time for setting fresh intentions.
Recently we've had rain and strong winds. The river was roaring majestically in spate for days, and the garden has turned into a bog (it's like a sponge). Plenty of dead kindling has been blown down, but the wind isn't so good a soundtrack for sleeping (it howls down the bedroom chimney all night).
Bright, still days like today are a rare gift. Everything is quiet, and even under the midday sun our world is frozen. Still-flowing water pulses under sheets of field ice. Wooden fences steam. Drystone walls sparkle in a reverie almost as ancient as the hills themselves.
Perfect thinking time.
Not a breath of wind, and not a single cloud in the sky, just the vapour trail of some distant aeroplane high above a derelict, roofless farmhouse. Modernity speeding on by whilst the valley below dozes under her carpet of frost.
It could have been like this forever.
A solitary windblown hawthorn, stripped of all signs of life, bent backwards after years of facing the prevailing wind now stands motionless.
Candied bramble leaves are dusted with sugar.
The ruts of old cart tracks solid underfoot, no danger of losing my balance (or even a wellington) today. The crunch of grass like fairy-gravel. The spikes of gorse grown even spikier, but now with more gentle weapons.
Summer seems like a far-off foreign land on days like this, but let us enjoy a brief seasonal pause in our frantic lives to wrap our thoughts up snugly, to incubate our plans, as we begin to pace our own dreamlines across the frozen fields and moors.