1 December 2017
A pigeon struts with all the smugness of a sergeant-major across the lawn. Clearly in command master of all he surveys and yet discombobulated by an absent army. For a few moments all the other birds have flown, hidden in bushes and branches or beyond the suburban fences. As he disappears desperate to maintain his self-belief a blue tit its yellow chest overblown with arrogance swoops down to feed.
2 December 2017
Crows swoop and scrabble back and forth over the pig field; a slow motion version of the planes that fought above these fields so many years ago. Noses down the pigs dig in the earth ploughing up worms and insects. Crows and pigs seek sustenance in the same soil with barely a glance of recognition to each other.
3 December 2017
Seven pheasants heads down walking purposefully up the lawn; an ill-organised and ill-mannered team of officers hunting for evidence and worms. The farthest confronted by a hedge, a dense interlaced old fashioned English hedge; it stands frustrated failing to understand why it cannot continue forwards; no thought is given to flapping over or side stepping to pass through the post and rail fence that abuts it.
4 December 2017
Mother sow waddles out followed by her litter. Ten or so dancing prancing bouncing in the muddy field; a moment passes then the runt chases out into the middle of the group who have settled to a mild amble. His ears raised to join the conversation barely reach their shoulders.
5 December 2017
Two walnuts barely thirty yards apart; one stripped of almost every leaf stands proud against the winter that is closing in; the other bent and bowed but still garlanded with limp and ragged olive leaves; dark dank flags of a fallen dictatorship or the creased and crumpled clothes of a lost party goer who has slept the remains of the night curled in the corner of a bus shelter and is finally walking home.
6 December 2017
Red and copper have faded on the oak leaf carpet; yellows have warmed to hints of gold but mainly bronze. Crisp edges from the morning frost glistening in the early sun give them an aspect of ancient Grecian weapons sufficient for me to imagine Achilles and Agamemnon walking down this woodland path.
7 December 2017
Dawn brings a warm glow to the sky as sunshine slips briefly under cloud; cloud that left just enough rain to start to slush the fallen leaves and turn the top of soil to mud; mud that darkens as the sun climbs and its glow is lost in a grey sky; sky that warns of damp dark chill and a drab and dreary day.
8 December 2017
There is a hint of winter water in the stream; no more than a child’s voice despite the drizzle of yesterday that tried to become a deluge and failed to achieve a downpour; no storm or stair rods yet this year. And the river is hardly higher but has a stronger current; enough to tinkle gently over rocks and push leaves to banks to fall across fallen branches; a young voice with all the passion of a watercourse that has great plans for adolescence and beyond.
9 December 2017
Frost upon the cusp has different sounds. Deep frost has only one crisp and crunch, but on the cusp earth can crunch or squish; leaves can crack or crease; it all depends upon the pockets of protection that are offered by the trees. Some spots demand a crunch and others protect and hold the last vestiges of warmth and permit a squish.
10 December 2017
Sky and wind did fight last night. Sky leaked water all across the land and wind did blow thither and hither as anger wandered about the woods; and blow so much at trees that branches too were torn away and littered here and there to stare up at the maelstrom of the sky wondering what happened. Now in daylight the wind does huff and puff to justify itself whilst the sky sniffs quietly and wipes away a tear.
11 December 2017
Trees bend back and forth as wind roars round and around; leaves scatter in a sort of terror; branches fly as older drier wood gives way; great limbs swing back and forth. Mayhem seems to rule the world; but the rain risen river flows quietly on; submerged rocks do not make tunes; and sticks and leaves are silently whisked away.
12 December 2017
The plume of vapour belies the lie they would have you believe that Winter is the dead time. When the world is white and fallen leaves are crisp; when ice forms on glass and open water; and when the sun is pale and low. Life lives on in piles of hay and straw and animal waste with a steaming flag to mark their work.
13 December 2017
From the right swirling and spinning in a shape both clear and precise and as ill-defined as a spacecraft descending from a fifth dimension; the murmuring appeared and hung still above the road; unmoving but with every part continually changing in a pattern more complex than one mind could comprehend and so simple every starling could follow it precisely whilst in the very act of creating it; motionless for less than a breath then with neither rhyme nor reason it it disappeared behind the trees before we reached it.
14 December 2017
Brick and tile slab and stone; the cityscape spreads out under a still almost white sky; roofs as far as the horizon darkening in the distance. And there is tree and bird and leaf and bush and deeper down are worm and beetle and slowly spinning spider. Flat mineral city has more than human life burgeoning wherever it can find a niche.
15 December 2017
Slick wetness changes the style of the skyline if not the shape; hardens it on tiles and edges; softens it on conifers and bushes still green with life; drips from gutters and from bared branches. Chimney pots and aerials puncture the cloudbase; cats slink past avoiding the water; a sort of silence sits and waits.
16 December 2017
Blackbirds swoop across the crisp white precisely flat suburban lawn, all blade heights matched. A robin flaunts its redbreast as it tumbles from the sky to land with utter surety upon the feeder and to peck wildly away at nuts and fat. Fat pigeon waddles across the lawn leaving footprints to mark its passage and swallows down the droppings. Its mate flaps in to an ungainly touchdown and drags him off to pastures fresh. The lawn lies silent and serene pigeon prints just visible to an expert eye.
17 December 2017
Forlorn and alone at the end of the garden, abandoned to slow dissolution, the snowman stands on the slabs sad collapsing and bent, a faint rain hanging in the air. A bright greenness carpets and drapes the world around him; sunlight catching the evergreen leaves; but his fate is sealed. Freezing may slow the death but the death is inevitable.
18 December 2017
Between the idea of cold grey streets lined with cars struggling to free themselves from ice and mist and grit and the reality of tired slate grey skies that last forever and extend beyond all horizons falls a shadow of wondrous beauty as sun hits the undercloud throws in some reds and orange and depth and shows us all a small brief glimpse of what the world can be.
19 December 2017
Before sunrise there is light. Bright white sparkling shadow of frost reflected street lights. Over black trees hangs the pall of permanent day. Only once away from buildings can the magic of the rising sun be fully seen as it climbs atop the treeline deep reds at the base rising through orange and yellow describing a giant stick insect in the clouds.
20 December 2017
Feet on ground on earth on squelchable earth feeds the softness of my soul; leaves scattered where they fell and piled only where the wind has blown them; twigs fallen in the wood unseen and those that landed on the path uncollected slowly moving as foot and paw brush and break and prepare them for a return to soil.
21 December 2017
Soft fog mists the songs of birds and mutes the sun; not in a way to darken but to temper and unstiffen; light relaxes and breathes in the turning of the year; hears the gentle reverberation of the water falling over rocks less noise than vibration; listens to the birds preparing for the spring.
22 December 2017
Seven leaves scattered widely on a spindly branch – a sense of something special holds them there despite the season; a mottled texture of beaten pale gold with remnant flecks of their one time green; as if in waiting for a crucial moment in a Greek myth I expect a maiden and a centaur to step into the clearing.
23 December 2017
Fog deep from ground to zenith with penetrating chill damps the world a few trees hence; silver spider strands from branch to twig and back distract the eye like tripwires as they catch in fur and beard; whilst somewhere in the soft twilight the deer must be standing silent their only betrayal being fresh footsteps in the mud.
24 December 2017
Trees fall in the dead season. An ash lies lost; one of quintuplets birthed from a pollarding before Thatcher made a lead; siblings who shot upward stretching from each other to find the light and spreading out to give each one equal space; eventually the angle and the weight becomes precarious and in the dormant time breaks and tears one from her sisters. All cessations happen in a dark, even in this pale winter daylight; and this is a transformation and the beginning of something new.
25 December 2017
There is a stillness to the world; a bird does caw across the sky and it is as if the creature senses that it is too loud and its cry settles into silence; the river tumbles and chatters but with a gentle muted edge as if it knows the seasons want some time for reflection rather than just for action; and the wind is still and soundless.
26 December 2017
Bright sunlight cuts through bare chill trees; it would sparkle on the frost if there was any but what dew has settled is a fine film on leaves and earth; and yet in places it does shine. An unshaded curve of leaf part blackened by the season and a smoothed twig reflect the breath of life within.
27 December 2017
Our little valley might have been scooped out by gods at the making of the world the way it protects us from the winds that flail and beat amongst the treetops. Not always but today the air is still where we walk whilst tops of poplars are swaying fit to break; ash moves slower stiffer and oaks may lose limbs rather than give up centuries of stern rigidity.
28 December 2017
Frost enhances: trees and branches earn a cleaner edge; leaves crisp underfoot; earth hard and ridged crumples into soft mud beneath; birds beat their wings for warmth and move with greater speed as if in thinner air; water falls over rocks and tumbles down the creases of the world singing in a sharper key or curls frozen into corners; grass sparkles; and donkeys stare from cross the stream with sterner malice.
29 December 2017
The world drips from branches and throws down gusts of drops. Leaves underfoot and underpaw are soft and beginning to disintegrate into the soft earth beneath; the rain has drained a little more of their colour and their substance; they thin and fade preparing to transfer to a ghostly skeletal existence that may end in days or last for years.
30 December 2017
With an awful airfull crack that stopped us in our tracks and dropped a short term silence on the world, the world reminded us that things do not stay the same. A trunk burst from a stem so many seasons long ago; risen to form a home for birds and insects to grow leaves and spider’s webs and to raise sap like mothers for their children; did fracture and did crack this morning as we passed; the weight of years too heavy and the strains of wind too strong; and so it broke and fell.
31 December 2017
The ferment has not fully faded nor been forgotten; branches lying on the ground do not forget; but the storm has gone and worst of wind has wandered westward diminishing with the day. Sun will work with what remains of wind to dry the mud and hold the names of passing footsteps in some short solidity and birds will cry out to call in the long coming of the Spring.