A winter walk

These frosty nights have aroused the fox. I heard him go down the lane, the last two nights, barking

Wow-wow-wow

on the cold starlit air.

But now it is day, the sun high, and I have letters to post.

There is ice everywhere, and hoar frost lingers like snow in every hollow and corner, although the sun is warm. In the village, wood smoke scents the air, rich as fruit cake. A blackbird pauses in his garden foraging, regarding me with one cadmium-ringed eye. On the long slope of The Street, windows wink in the sun and ivy leaves shine like pewter.

Idle workmen are standing about in solemn conclave, one to consult an unseen authority on his mobile phone, the rest to listen in.

Blue tits are chanting in the hazel hedge of the lane, but where the blackbirds drink and the robins bathe the spring water has turned to sheets of ice. The road surface is exploding in small, anthracitic shards. Our ancestors believed that springs were liminal places, the abode of spirits, where the living and the dead might brush up against one another, and imbued them with magic. The springs here certainly possess powers which it will take more than even the combined force of the highways department and the water company to overcome. And in a way I am glad, because our springs should not be smothered or polluted, but treasured and respected; our landscape is the richer for them and they are worth the inconvenience.

So I slide and totter and penguin-waddle my way stolidly through, sometimes stepping up onto the icing-sugar verges or long-gaiting from one clear spot to another. Then comes the long climb …

At the last hill-brow, the scent of musk from the hedge-bottom reminds me of the fox once more.

And home.

© New Moons For Old, 2016

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