Today it is not freezing. There is still a thin window of ice on the top each water bucket, but it is fragile enough for the llamas and pigs to deal with unaided, with a gentle prod from hoof or snout. The chickens have happily emerged from their house to go worm-chasing, and the llamas are spread far and wide nibbling soft green grass. It is warmer indeed, but it is not so pretty.
Yesterday morning, when I walked the mad hounds at sunrise, a cold crispness coated the detritus of the winter landscape with a bewitching overlay of enchantment. The carpet of fallen oak leaves was silver-white, each separate leaf encased in frozen skin of ice. Walking through them was like walking through a bowl of sparkly cornflakes. Without milk. The dogs’ bouncing crunched in the still air, their excited doggy breath surrounding them in misty clouds as they frolicked in the frosty foliage. The leafless hazel hedges wore fleecy nets in their silver catkin hair, and they sat and watched in silent rows, like happy old ladies at their grand-children’s nativity play. It was a morning full of promise.
Which the rest of the day kept. Blue, blue skies and dazzling sunshine melted all that frosty promise into glistening sparkles, shimmering gently in the brightness between the long winter shadows. An invisible breeze tousled the dewy grass. A flickering field of minikin fairy lights, bristling with wishes. A huge white heron rose soundlessly from the long clover, swooping and gliding silently away into the distant blue. The clear stream flashed and burbled its way from infinity to eternity, an incandescent snake slipping the moment ever onward to a place of dreams.
But today it is not freezing. Today is damp and grey, brown and soft. Still and dull. A soggy weetabix sort of day. Today is not cold.
Today is on hold.