This is a different winter to all of the previous ones I have known. Right now, as I write this, we are in our third lockdown, trips out are curtailed. Just left with the walk along the river, which is not how I wanted to start the year. Not only this the sky is a monotone grey not particularly good for photography, no contrast.
I love winter there is a silence to the landscape which is only punctuated by bird calls. Yes, you can hear the road noise from the bypass, but this seems a world away from where I am standing. It is like being in a bubble. Everything is calm.
The trees are stark without any leaves the branches and twigs pushing upwards producing silhouettes against the sky. Or, in the case of birch trees drooping mournfully awaiting the flush of spring.
There has been some very heavy rain recently this has raised the level of the river now willows droop into the water catching stray bits of vegetation they sway up and down, and side to side creating huge vee’s in the water. In places an underwater obstruction causes the surface of the water to bubble up, another disturbance that travels downriver before, gradually fading into nothing.
Swans and ducks try to swim upstream battling against the current in a stop-start journey as with each leg they drive forward then stop before the next stroke takes effect. The wake gurgling in front of them rising up against their bodies. Their progress is slow but noticeable.
Winter is typically cold. The watery sun hangs sullenly in the sky. The pale grey clouds washing the colour and life out of this bright point and the wind comes that cuts straight through you. The rain is bitter and comes in all forms from the misty drizzle that soaks everything to the icy downpours that, soak everything. It’s a time to be inside.
No, it’s not It’s a time to be outside feeling this. The rain is water, and we have waterproofs. We have layers, hats and gloves for the cold, tissues for runny noses, and despite what we are told you don’t catch a cold from being cold.
It is a beautiful, cold, bracing time of year. Suddenly it all makes sense. The area has closed down, breath steams, and leaves that have fallen are starting to decay and be pulled into the earth and we are awash with mud.
The mud sticks to my boots. It builds up over a period of time suddenly I am 2” taller and 4 pounds heavier. This is the light sticky mud from cultivated ground, but you also have the wet squelchy mud that is slippery and can catch people out. Marks in the mud where boots have slipped.
All the time there is a sense of things to come, a preparation for spring. The explosion of life as all the plants exit their dormancy. They are just asleep, rather than fighting the cold, harbouring their strength.
Yes, I love wintertime. I love the rain; I love getting up and seeing my breath steam in the cold, the heavy winter fogs that envelope the trees making them indistinct, that mutes sounds and isolates. The patterns of frost on water and how the Hoare frost sticks to the sleeping branches, twigs and grasses. I love the keening wind that blows. It does something indescribable. I love the way the sun hangs in the sky with no strength all washed out and powerless.
Winter is a time of renewal. A time to get ready for the flush of spring and rather than complain about it we should get out and relish it.
If you have read this far then thank you so much. You can see some winter images on my Instagram feed HERE