Monday, 3 January 2011
A Morning Walk.
Here in the Yorkshire Dales, Winter has lost none of its grip. The snow has gone apart from odd, dirty heaps where it has been artificially piled up by the side of the road, but the ground is still hard-frozen. Where the tractor has made deep ruts in the field, water has gathered and has turned to ice, making incredible patterns that tempt you to stamp on them as you pass, like you did as a child (well, nobody is looking are they?)
In the bare hedgerow not a single berry remains. Here and there a crab-apple tree has fruit still on its branches but that fruit is rotting and frozen solid and at present does not seem to be tempting the birds to eat. If the Winter gets hard again maybe this will change.
In the hedge bottoms the holes made by voles and mice and rabbits lie deep in the shelter of the hedge and go deep underground, to where the earth is no longer frozen, to where the creatures can huddle for warmth in the middle of the Winter night.
As we walk across the hard field a few fieldfares take off from the bare hedge, but although I walk where they were perched I can see no sign of anything eatable. At the foot of the hedge a dead rabbit has been more or less picked clean, leaving just its skeleton and its wet fur - a welcome meal for a few creatures no doubt.
On the gate post our resident little owl sits and regards us, only flying off at the very last minute. He has been here for several years and knows we are no threat.
Similarly two cock pheasant outside the field gate merely walk out of the way rather than flying off.
In the wood the floor is bare and the trees are bare; all is brown until we spot a patch of young green growth, the first shoots of cow parsley are pushing through - a welcome sight. And through the wood the beck, full at the moment, runs swiftly on its long journey to the North Sea.
It is not easy walking in the fields. The cattle, gone now to Winter housing, walked there when the fields were wet and the ground is now deeply-rutted and hard. It seems a long time yet to the day when the farmer will get out the harrows and harrow those ruts away.
today's aros: Ice crystals transform dirty puddles into works of art.