"Warm, orange glow in the afternoon. The sigh of my feet in the frosted night grass. Wrap my coat closer, wrap myself into the ground, fold myself into the earth. As night descends I can hear the shiftless hunting of voles, shrews and mice in the hedge. And spangled is the only word for this starry night of seeping cold." ~ from Meadowland by John Lewis Stempel - 30 November.
"It was a world of glass, sparkling and motionless. Vapours had frozen all over the trees and transformed them into confections of sugar. Everything was rigid, locked-up and sealed, and when we breathed the air it smelt like needles and stabbed our nostrils and made us sneeze." ~ from Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee.
Winter is slowly sneaking up on us.Frosty mornings with white roofs and crystal toppings on the cars. The fields in the distance pale and glistening; leaves rimed with white; pansies drooping in their pots; the last of the summer flowers blackened and mushy.
I love the sense of stillness with a frost. The slight cold haze in the sky; the crisp feel to the air; and the grass sugar-coated.
The house takes a while to warm up; I am reluctant to get out from under my quilt as I lay in bed waiting for the sun to come up. Even so, it is still barely light when I go downstairs to make a pot of tea.
Lorries and cars are already going past making their way to work, and I feel grateful that I don't have to be out there, scraping the windscreen, with the frost biting my ears and fingertips, my breath streaming white in the cold air.
The birds come down early to feed after a cold night shivering in hedgerows and huddling together on branches.
I throw some breakfast crumbs on to the bird table and hurry back indoors; but even before I have taken a few steps, a crow lands, and is pecking away; mouth full before any other bird has a chance. She usually goes to the bird bath to soak the bread.This morning it is frozen over.
We fill the feeders daily for our feathered friends - as a thank you for the pleasure that they bring.
A rare sighting in our garden - a Tree Sparrow (centre)
A passel of Long-tailed Tits on the peanuts
"A dozen long-tailed tits flit along the hedgerow, separate yet together, as if connected
to one another by invisible strands of elastic. When you are close up to a flock of them, the
sense of intimacy is palpable. It's not quite that they don't notice us, more as if they
don't really care. They all stick together; as a friend of mine sagely noted, this is the
only small bird that spends Christmas with its family."
~ from Wild Hares and Hummingbirds by Stephen Moss
"It's murder out, the milkman said.
'Crows worrying the sheep. Swans frozen in the lake. And tits dropping dead in mid-air.' He drank his tea while his eyebrows melted, slapped Dorothy's bottom, and left.
'The poor, poor birds,' Mother said." ~ from Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee.