Detailed tiny snow coverings on the bare dried stalks of last year’s plants.
The downward swoop of larch tree branches, each branch with its white layer of snowdust, every surface faithfully covered, the snow following each sweep and curve of branch.
These are days for details, not for horizon scanning or at least not in the sense of where you might go for you know you are not going any further than where your feet will take you. So to look to horizons is to see their details too, of what they hold. Today they held for a short while, 2 tiny planes and their vapour trails and because of the slope of a nearby hill, as the 2 planes curved through the sky into the distance, they then dived down to meet the horizon.
One or two white birds, seagulls, caught the sunlight and turned silver, little sparks that crossed the sky. Which was all blue, so deep blue, a vast and empty blue above the almost unmarked white below.
What showed through the white were small patches of dark green gorse where the snow had not been able to lie, though the tops of the gorse patches were snow covered.
And then down in the valley, the ribbon of black stream water.
Parts of the stones that made up the wall around the field where the horses were, and the coats the horses were wearing (even the horses themselves were white).
But otherwise, only blue of sky and white of snow-covered hills.
Even the shadows are blue, though not as deeply coloured as the sky.
I can see traces in the snow where other creatures have been, no human footsteps, but the trails criss- crossing, circling, of rabbits or hares, and several hare paths leading downhill to the stream.
A hare highway, several tracks but no sign of anything living apart from those silver flashing drops of light in the sky. And once only, the sound of a crow carrying a long way, sounding so loud in the snow blanketed stillness, and I look up and there is a black wing crossing the blue sky.
Looking back, into the sun, the fields and the whole landscape is polished, shiny as meringue. As if the snow had been whipped and then smoothed over the land. The silence of a pristine, unmarked path.
The hare-tracked path is surely just as silent but the traces of the hares’ journeys feel almost like sound, almost as if you can hear the tracks they made, can listen to the past, their frosted breathing, their searching, their intent, an almost-sound on the empty track.
Turning back I face the sun.
It is warm on my face. The sun feels warm. That warmth is enough for me to imagine how it will gradually rise higher in the sky, how it will, eventually, take longer and longer to reach the horizon point where it will sink below it, how the arc it makes across the sky will extend, how its presence will grace us, longer and longer. I know it will never, not here, rise so high in the sky that shadows will shrink to near nothing at all, but they will be shorter than they are now and it will feel warmer. Already in January in the snow, the sun is warm on my face.