Friday, 6 February 2009

Observations on Walking in Snow

Even if the territory upon which you walk is familiar in the green grass light of a normal day, the snowed-upon land feels different under the feet. For one thing, new snow squeaks. The snowdrops are all covered, and there are odd, unrecognisable hillocks and hummocks disguising the terrain I thought I knew so well. The wimpy weasel is snuffling and snortling at this strange powdery stuff, and the dastardly dinmont has hurried inside in a huff, because he doesn't care for his manly parts acting as a snowplough. No walk for him today, then. The wretched rams are doing their smoke impressions again, and pawing and gnawing at the hidden grass. They would rather be reindeer, who are better equipped for this sort of thing. Crossing the lawn is an adventure--there are the blackbird tracks, there the robin's small marks, like unreadable hieroglyphics on a crisp white sheet. And here, oh, here, are the long, lollopy tracks of the rabid rabbits. I see they have tried to get into the vegetable garden again, but my hard heart rejoices to see that the chicken wire behind the beech hedge has foiled them yet again. My kale and leeks are safe.

The field by the stream is silent until I reach the bridge, and then the sluggish water turns to a millrace roaring, full of snowmelt, and frothing like angry lace. There is an earthbrown eruption on the bank, all out of place in this white desert--a mole has been digging his hill despite the weather. The trees are heavy with a burden of slipping snow, but the willows are starting to turn red with sap. They know that spring is coming, even if the weather says otherwise.

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