First Sunday in Advent with cats

It it was snowing outside and warm inside.


0772FFCE-1661-49FC-8050-DD87D0D2DBED.jpegThat’s it!


It’s all gone Pete Tong!

Spring and a lot of the world seems to have gone seriously Pete Tong (wrong)! Yesterday there was a blizzard. Gigantic fat flakes of white that just got warm enough to melt a little and coat the whole garden in water, before the night time temperature crashed and everything was encased in ice.

The buds of the vine are destroyed, my peonies are mush, the hydrangea is dead to half its height , the wonderful flush of apple blossom is crisped and brown and my loves lies bleeding is collapsed and white.

And that is just the garden.

Don’t get me started on the rest of the world !!!


These extraordinary patterns were on the inside of glass house in the village. The complexity and decorative exuberance of the ice crystals looked like the most expensive etched crystal. Each pane of glass had a different pattern: some like sea urchins; some like ferns ; others like samphire or horsetails and some like nothing I have ever seen before,  all drawn in ice by organic random chance.




W. is for Winter.

Some winters don’t really deserved the name, being just muddy and  greyer versions of autumn; but this year deserves a capital W . After months of hard frost , now we have snow in all its guises and as soon as a path to the bird feeders is shovelled and swept, down it comes again in all it’s infuriating smothering simplicity.

So it is a time for reading and at the moment I am reading Helen MacDonald’s

H Is for Hawk “. The book is outstanding and her prose is razor sharp. It is an unlikely description of training a female goshawk to distract the writer from what threatens to be overwhelming grief after the death of her father. Rather like my description of most winters, this explanation does not begin to do justice to her visceral, uncanny imagining of the inside of a bird’s brain, the need to kill and devour and the need of both bird and woman to be free.

I am also reading “Falling Awake ” poetry by Alice Oswald. She also has an extraordinary clarity when describing the natural world, but there is an emotional distance between her words which leaves greater space for an intellectual juggling of creatures and shadows.

It has started snowing again. A few parrot faced goldfinches are still delicately pulling niger seeds from the feeder. A blackbird is gorging on a cut apple before the snow covers it over again.

Next week the temperatures are going to plummet to record lows according to the forecast. I hope we will all survive the coming cold.

Squeaky Snow and Frozen Flags

Today was wonderfully cold. Minus 10 overnight and utterly clear and bright during the day. The snow is squeaky and every blade of grass poking above brandishes a tiny banner of ice.

Our footprints carve their mark on the fresh fall and all around us are the patterns of creatures that were out before us. Most of the marks are rabbits, who I now realise feed much further from their burrow than I appreciated; deep neat marks are deer ; round footprints are cats and light prints are martins. Some longer prints maybe hare and small dog like prints maybe fox. Out in the open three grassy circles with smooth snow edges would seem to be the spots were deer lay down as the snow fell heavily, though why they stayed out in the fields, when the shelter of the forest was so close, I do not know . Under apple trees a mole hill is brown and fresh above the snow although the soil  is already frozen hard. Coin sized round holes in the snow indicate where voles had emerged at some point from their runs under the white blanket which now keeps them safe and sheltered from the hungry buzzards wheeling above in a cold blue sky.


Dead and alive.

First snow has fallen and the world seems dead under its soft white pall. Each twig is freaked with it and each branch heavy with a defining stark line. And yet on close inspection not only are the leaf buds for the spring already formed and waiting, but hazel catkins were ready on the twigs before the autumn leaves had even fallen. There is no dead time, the cycle never stops: only the speed changes.