Friday, January 22, 2010
The snow stayed for over a week, finally disappearing over a forty eight hour period when the wind switched from a Moscow departure to it’s more usual route across the Atlantic. A few white patches remain under hedges where the sun never shines but much of it has now gone. The Rabbits were relieved to see the grass again, the prolonged covering of snow driving them to gnaw the bark from trees as a means of getting a meal. Footprints in the snow give a strong hint as to what is about at the moment. The path of a fox setting off in a straight line across a field, a well worn path as a platoon of pheasants make their daily trek from their roost to game cover, the scatty route of an errant dog bumbling around where he shouldn’t be, the snow shoe prints of a pair of swans walking their way from one river channel to another, the fine lines of an Egret print as it silently approaches the water’s edge. The egrets in this valley show little concern over the presence of man, and it is not uncommon to get within ten yards of one before he flies off. Most mornings this week the dogs have ejected a pair of Waterail from a bank of sedges near the pond, they keep going back to the same spot, although I think it is a little early for them to be pairing up. The Roe deer and Hares congregate in the same place in prolonged cold weather a shallow dip in the hundred acre field seems to be a warm sheltered spot, it is nothing to see a dozen hares hunkered down in this dip on a cold morning.
For much of a school free week, the field behind our house became the hub of village life as many turned out to rekindle their passion for sledging. The bridleway from the village bore a procession of people armed with tea trays, plastic sheeting, blow up boats and much more to use up some adrenalin on one of the fastest slopes of this parish and beyond. It normally plays host to a particularly senior Pheasant drive but even the gamekeeper turned out to pitch his young children headlong down the slope. Not a warning sign to be seen or even a nod to health and safety, just an army of kids and parents flinging themselves down a slope and enjoying themselves.
During the freeze the river fell away and was maintained by spring flow alone, it coloured and rose during the thaw, falling back to level that is about right for this time of the year. The long spring ditch that leads up through the water meadow and around the football pitch has yet to start running on the other side of the village, a sign that the aquifers can accommodate a good deal more rain yet.
The tinning is underway and I have also had some welcome limbs of ash to chop up, the woodshed took a bit of a hammering in recent weeks and is in desperate need of replenishment.