According to the Weatherman, there is a battle going on over our heads between a large block of cold air which has settled over the United Kingdom from the Arctic and a block of warm air floating up from The Azores. As with any battle there is fall-out; in this case it is heavy snow, which is scheduled to fall on Devon and South Wales as I write. Elsewhere the "Great Freeze" is said to be giving way to the "Great Thaw". Here in the Yorkshire Dales, for "great" read "little", for most of our snow is going nowhere yet.
Consequently, today we are living in a black-and-white world. The privet hedge outside the kitchen window - a yard away from where I stand - is a dull green, but elsewhere everything is black or white, with the odd touch of grey when a collared dove lands near enough to be seen.
The silent voice of snow, as Ronald Blythe calls it, fills in the bulk of the landscape. Here and there the black skeleton of a tree stands out in all its beauty, as though drawn by the artist's pen; its shape, its every branch and twig seems carefully etched against a white background.
At the top of the field there is just a suggestion of a copse of trees. I know it well. The trees all bend to the East, shaped in their growing by our prevailing West wind. But now, in the mist, I can see only a faint smudging and as I watch even that is erased as though the artist sketching the scene has decided, with artistic licence, to rub them out - and has gently drawn the eraser over them.
There are two cock pheasant in the field. I know them too. These same two stroll down the drive to our feeding station each lunch time in all their finery, to dine. But now, as they stand out in the middle of the white field, they are black - a sketched outline filled in with pencil hatching. No hint of colour.
On the farm gate a few garden birds sit, identifiable only by their shape - there a blackbird, there a jackdaw, there a finch of some kind. No vestige of colour visible.
And in the lane two tyre tracks shine out like Whitby jet, black and glittering, although whether with damp or with black ice it is difficult to tell.
There is a drawn quality to our landscape. It is as though I am looking at the "real" scene, rather like a drawing of a naked figure, without clothes, without jewelry, without any kind of finery, with no adornment - so that we see it as it really is.
I hate this damp, icy drizzle, this mist that comes and goes at a whim, this dark world where we need the light on all day. But just for a little while I look out and realise that I am seeing the bare bones of the landscape. But then the greater spotted woodpecker arrives at the peanut basket and his red nape adds a faint touch of colour to the scene.
Time to light the wood-burning stove and get buttering the crumpets.