A World of Glass, Sparkling and Motionless . . .


"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
 
 Sparrows dominate the feeders but where are the finches? 
"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.
 
Elaine
 
 
 
 
   
 



Comments

  1. The tits look lovely - here in the city we have mostly sparrows (really: hundreds of them in one big bush!). It starts to begin getting cold here too, but only once we had a little bit of snow (in the Allgäu, where Son&DIL live, there are massive amounts of snow).
    "I love the sense of stillness with a frost." you write - that's what I always think of a snow-covered landscape.

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    1. Hello Britta
      We had a small flurry of snow but mostly frost in the early morning. I do enjoy it at this time of year much more so than the wet and windy weather we are now having.

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  2. Cider with Rosie.....gosh that brings back memories for me :)

    Yes Elaine, the frost does bring a sense of stillness........a calmness to a garden.

    I love the birds on the feeders. I have been short of finches for several years but this year I have so many. It is strange how numbers fluctuate. They will come back at some point.
    I love long tailed tits and have a number on the feeders....they are such a pretty little bird.

    Love your tree sparrow...........

    Have a lovely weekend Elaine.

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    1. Hi Cheryl
      One of my favourite books which I have re-read recently. Did you see the recent dramatisation of it - it was so good that it had me in tears. We usually have lots of goldfinches but they haven't appeared at all so far. But my favourites really are the long tailed tits they are so comical and I love the way they stick together in little gangs. It was husband who spotted the tree sparrow - now that I know what they look like I will keep my eyes open.

      You have a lovely weekend too - although it looks like it is going to be a wet one.

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    2. Hi Elaine,

      I must re-read Cider with Rosie. Yes I did see the dramatisation, and like you I found it really moving...........

      It has been a lovely bright morning here but now the clouds have come in with a promise of rain .

      Hope it is better your end..........

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  3. A really lovely post and wonderful pictures. Flighty xx

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  4. I love the bright frosty mornings but until now we only had one. It´s wet and rainy every day, Here also the birds are feasting around the feeders now. The crows makes antics on the wire with peanuts intended for the tits. Various finches, tits and a robin are around the feeders, I love it.
    So nice to have a tree sparrow among the other sparrows!

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    1. It is wet here too now Janneke but a lot milder. The crows are quite bold in our garden and try to lift the feeders off the hooks - they come down for their breakfast regularly at the same time.

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  5. The poor birds, indeed for it is 13 F degrees here. Very cold We had our first real snow yesterday and it looks like more is falling--that blast of cold, a gift from our Canadian friends. I'll be staying in cleaning up, putting away the Thanksgiving fall decor to ready for Christmas. Your countryside and garden are beautiful in the fall. We get plenty of English sparrows, too, at the feeders and no tits. Finches, too, and junkos on the ground. Have a delightful weekend.

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    1. Sorry to hear your snow has arrived already - the birds have a hard time of it don't they - we just keep on feeding them in the hope they survive the winter - the garden just wouldn't be the same without them would it. Hope your Thanksgiving went well. Hope you have a good weekend too.

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  6. Love watching your wintery world through your eyes. It will have to get much warmer for me to venture out, and stop raining and I forgot to bring my camera to the city house. I've hung a bird feeder out but am still waiting for the birds to find it.

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    1. Thanks Donna. It's pretty miserable here at the moment but I have plenty to occupy me indoors but I do like to get out for a breath of air when I can otherwise I submit to cabin fever - spring seems a long way off at the moment. It takes a while for birds to seek out a new feeder but once they know where it is I am sure they will become regular visitors.

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  7. It is good to wake up on a morning and not to worry whether it is thick snow meaning it will be a struggle to get to work. Now we can just stay inside and keep warm and just look at it out of the window and watch the birds coming to the feeders and bird bath.

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  8. Oooo Elaine ..... it looks a lot more wintery in your neck of the woods !!
    Wonderful images of the little birds in your garden and the foliage of late Autumn..... everything is getting a little bare now though, isn't it ?
    Keep warm Elaine and I wish you a lovely weekend. XXXX

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    1. It has been pretty wintery here but not so bad now - I prefer the colder weather to be honest much prefer it to damp and miserable. Yes, the leaves have just about all gone now - but it was a lovely autumn wasn't it. have a lovely weekend yourself Jackie.

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  9. It's been years since I read Cider With Rosie-time to haul it out again. Beautiful scenes.

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    1. Hello Susan - long time no see - how are you - hope you are well. cider with Rosie - one of my favourite books - I never tire of reading it.

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  10. beautiful photographs, and your weblog looks lovely also :-)

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  11. Just beautiful post my friend. Your words, quotes, and photos are just lovely. Such a pleasant visit to your corner of the world. Have a blessed day.

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    1. Dear Debbie
      Thank you for your kind words. Have a lovely weekend my friend.

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  12. Wonderful images and fascinating texts.
    Have a lovely weekend!

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  13. Frosted fields and bright berries. Winter has arrived on your doorstep.

    Cider with Rosie together with As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning are two beautiful books capturing a rural England long gone.

    Ms Soup

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    1. It has been lovely but now it has been all change - really wet and windy and rather horrible but it was nice while it lasted. I love Laurie Lee's work and have read all his books and poetry - I think reading him should be made compulsory - lol.

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  14. Glorious photos and, indeed, winter is creeping in. Have a wonderfully warm weekend!

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    1. Thank you Cathy. You enjoy the rest of the weekend too.

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  15. A wonderful post. I like the qoutes and your writing... and the photos are marvellous.
    Have a nice weekend

    (have subscribed your posts as email now)

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    1. Thank you so much Mascha you are very kind. You have a good weekend too.

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  16. What a lovely post. We have loads of sparrows all year but the thrush has returned now the weather is cooler and so have the goldfinches. We seem to have robins, tits and blackbirds all year and I spotted a chaffinch yesterday, thought it was a robin until I saw the white on its side. I love Cider with Rosie, I have a copy on the bookshelves somewhere I musr re read it, I enjoyed the television adaptation that was on recently:)

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    1. Thanks Rosie. I re-read it all the time definitely on my list of favourites. I loved the recent adaptation different from the other versions I have watched - it had me in tears - the narration by Timothy Spall was wonderful.

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  17. Here in Cornwall, we've only had one morning with a very light frost because it has been so mild. Living on the edge of Bodmin Moor, 'mild' means fog . . rain . . muddy, soggy walks . . . low clouds and greyness. Oh for a sharp, frosty spell that would kill off the germs and viruses that seem to be doing the rounds. I am waiting in for a delivery of bird seed, sunflower hearts, peanuts and fat balls that should (I hope) last the birds until Christmas is over. In waiting are the gang of sparrows that live in my back hedge, two robins, a pair of tiny wrens, the occasional chaffinch and the mixture of starlings, crows, jackdaws and an ever-hopeful seagull - though my dog runs and barks at him as soon as he sees him., No seagulls allowed, says Zac!

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    1. Not a big fan of soggy and muddy - bright and crisp is what I like - but now it is very wet here :(
      Luckily we get no seagulls here.

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  18. We've only had one frost here so far and fortunately that was on a day when I was working from home so didn't have to deal with the scraping the car in the dark! I love watching all the birds on the feeders, we have lots of tree sparrows and they can be very feisty!

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    1. It has turned quite mild here now but mild means rain, lots of it - oh well the frost was nice while it lasted. I rather liked seeing the tree sparrow usually we have all sorts on the feeders but they seem a bit thin on the ground this year.

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  19. I want to read Cider with Rosie again now :). I wish it would get frosty here too, it's just damp and cold here, endless rain pah I am fed up with it now. You photos are lovely bringing some colour into my life, thank you :).

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    1. The frost has gone from here too - the heavens absolutely opened today - it poured down with rain all day - not so pleasant - but you never know from one day to the next what the weather is going to be like - not a lot we can do about it is there.

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  20. Cider with Rosie is one of my all time favourites. What gorgeous descriptions! We have our bird feeders up now. The pictures are beautiful. Have a good week :)

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    1. Mine too Suzy I never tire of reading it and always find something new - I love his style of writing. You have a good week too.

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  21. Elaine, I look through your photos and see the change from one season to the next - a cold gripping your landscape as it does mine. Perhaps on one of these freezing mornings when I'm up before dawn, I'll think of you a world away, in your own frosty domain.

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  22. A blog is such a good way of recording the seasons - I look through my photos from year to year and see the differences - this time last year we had heavy snow - this year is relatively mild compared.

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  23. Gosh....you had snow! Some wonderful quotes and passages here, as always! I always leave your posts in a much better mood than I arrive in!!! Lucky, lucky birds getting fed each day, and how good to see your sparrows.
    I love that sunset and the seedheads look like little moths....gorgeous! Isn't it nice not to have to get up and dash out in the cold? Then you can almost enjoy the cold frosty weather. A lovely post....as always!xxx

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  24. Thanks Dina - I always appreciate your lovely response to my posts - since this was written the weather has taken a turn for the worst and I haven't been able to get out and take any photos. Nth weather has been absolutely ghastly - how is it where you are?
    At last we have had a few goldfinches on the feeders I thought they were never going to arrive. Have a lovely week my friend - don't work too hard.

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    1. We're having hideous weather too.....I cannot understand why dogs want to walk and run in it! Hope you get a chance to take some piccies....if only to cheer me up! Oh, how I love goldfinches!xxx

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    2. We're having hideous weather too.....I cannot understand why dogs want to walk and run in it! Hope you get a chance to take some piccies....if only to cheer me up! Oh, how I love goldfinches!xxx

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  25. Your post is like a warm quilt wrapped around us as we read the words you have chosen to spread the feeling of coziness inside. Outside, your photos have captured the seasonal changes taking place. I love how you've capture the 'orange glow in the afternoon'. I'm with you, relieved at not having to go out in the early morning trudging off to work! Lovely post.... now, back under the quilt!

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    1. Oh Glo - you do have a way with words - thank you. It was so snug and cozy under that quilt!

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  26. That must have been the lull before the rain! I'm glad you enjoyed some lovely weather even it was only for a day. The fields there look so white, we haven't seen it that white here yet! Sarah x

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  27. Yes it was Sarah - we were lulled into a false sense of security - it has done nothing but rain since.

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  28. Those words of Laurie Lee are perfect for this time of year - loved the dramatisation of Cider with Rosie on TV recently. We enjoyed trying to recognise the various spots where it was filmed, which were all just a stones throw from here.

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    1. I loved it too Rosemary - a little different from the other versions I have seen - different locations too - such a beautiful area.

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  29. Well, we haven't had it so frosty as you ... and it is now quite mild for the time of year ... who knows what our weather will bring, we just have to make the most of every day.

    I quite agree it is lovely to watch the birds and you have a good few to enjoy, I like your photo's.

    Out and about recently we saw quite a few squirrels, busy little things they were and so sweet to look at ... sometimes I'm sure you could almost make a conversation with them! Well perhaps not, but it would be quite interesting I'm sure.

    Now being more sensible I must just wish you a Happy month of December, we received our first Christmas Card today and it looks lovely up on the shelf waiting for the next ones to arrive.

    Take Care

    All the best Jan

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    1. That was the last of the frost Jan - since then it has been unseasonably mild. Oh dear the first Christmas card already - Christmas will be here before I am ready for it at this rate.

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