Monday, February 23, 2015

Four Seasons in One Day

Saturday morning, out early with the dogs: there was a February crispness in the air but there was no frost; the birds were in full voice and their song resonated through the calm of the morning; the buds on the apple trees were visibly becoming more swollen. This all lent the day a spring-like quality, the first this year that showed signs that winter will soon surrender its lease.

But as I reached my turning point at Cattle Wood, the greying sky began a sleety rain that quickly transformed into giant flakes of snow that slapped into my face as I headed home. The wintery snow did not settle on Windmill Hill but, once indoors, I could see the fields up on the higher ground of the distant ridge at Dallington standing out, bright white, under the leaden sky.

Within an hour the snow had stopped and, by late morning, the clouds had disappeared and a warming sun had started to beam down. The tarmacked surfaces of the wet lanes dazzled in the sunlight and steam began to rise from the fields as the rays penetrated the sodden soil. By lunchtime, splitting logs and making kindling, I was down to summer shirtsleeves in the balmy outdoors.

Yet, as the afternoon wore on, the shadows lengthened and the lack of cloud cover caused the temperature to tumble. As the light faded, spirals of grey trailed up from chimney pots and the air was filled with the smell of wood smoke from lighting fires as people started to settle down indoors at the autumn of the day. By nine o’clock at night, bringing in more firewood, I could feel the crunch of the frost forming underfoot.