I love the days of bright sun and hard frost, the intense colour of the oak trees, still holding their orange leaves.
But there’s something special in days like today, too. The air is mild enough that the birds start to sing – I can hear a thrush carolling as I type – and the sky is feathered grey and white, like a goose’s wing. There are sunlight and drizzle in the air.
Flocks of fieldfares speckle the sky with calls. Fugitive pheasants prowl through cottage gardens. Throughout the hour before dawn, the tawnies reinforce the territories they claimed months ago.
In the hedges, the thorns are bare, but uncut hazel wands fly tattered leaves like Tibetan prayer flags. Orchards are stripped, except for the pollinator crab apple trees, which bear their crowded fruit defiantly, in the gaudy red and gold of Christmas baubles.
There are just a couple of weeks to go until the shortest day, the winter solstice, but winter wheat has flushed the fields bright green, with a slightly bluer tinge than the pastureland, which is tawny and pale.
And so the year turns.
© New Moons For Old, 2016