Last weekend we woke to an eerie lit morning, at first I thought it was snow however it was only a heavy frost, so after I’d bundled up and sorted out bird baths and feeders (my first chores of the day in the winter) and made the Arpette porridge, we decided to wrap up and go for a walk…..because it was still early (about 10.30 ish) the marsh was crossable, the ground was frozen hard and we were able to walk on it….later on as the sun came out areas became thick and gloopy, really hanging onto our boots kind of mud.
Where the water hadn’t drained away enough, huge puddles of ice had formed. I particularly liked the way the ice had settled in the dimples in the muddy bits…….over Christmas the river had flooded and most of the marsh was under water….a couple of years ago a local trust was given money to create an all weathers pathway over the marsh so there is a raised walkway….however even sections of this were under water, it was somewhat odd to walk across the flooded bits of path, the stones were visible but the high water made it feel…not scary exactly but anxious.
The way the ice forms around the edge of the puddles makes me think of tree barks, it’s a pattern I’ve noticed numerous times now in nature, I’ve also seen it close up on the way some birds feather overlay on the wing……the ice in the centre is so incredibly clear, it’s really like a looking glass….as I’ve been a bit clumsy of late (I’m blaming it on my cold and having ears that keep popping) and somewhat wobbly when walking, I didn’t want to get too close to the actual river, the banks were so icy that I know I’d have ended up on my bottom if not in the actual river, but where the water was frozen and transparent, we could see the river plants underneath, motionless and transfixed, almost like a spell………when the marshes are like this it makes me think so much of the Lord of the Rings films, where they cross the dead marshes…I can almost imagine faces appearing under the ice…….a couple of times we went out in the afternoon and came home as the sun was setting, it was still light enough to see and then the frozen river looked both beautiful and creepy.
As we’d set out early and the ground was still hard enough to walk on, we were able to walk by some of the bramble bushes where’d I been blackberry picking in the Summer…..the sun hadn’t reached this section so everything was still frozen and white……in the top right corner you can see where the sun has shone and it’s a wonderful bright and golden light, this bit though was left all gloomy.
Mostly the frost doesn’t linger too long, by midday it’s gone, on the marshes and wetland though when the weather has been colder it takes longer to disappear.
When there has been a frost here the marshes are so transformed……it’s still a beautiful place but it’s an eerie and odd sort of beauty, I love Winter and snow and frost but at the same time they make me feel not scared, but apprehensive. Growing up in a little village I can vaguely remember some bad Winters in the Seventies, when we had to have instant milk powder as the milkman couldn’t get in due to the roads being blocked….although there were a few small village shops (it’s so strange to think how many little shops the village I grew up in had and now there is just a post office and “they” tried to close that a while back) grocery supplies began to grow short….at the time I thought it the greatest fun, school was closed and I spent all day out in the garden playing in the snow or sprawled out on the carpet with my sisters in front of the fire, but now I’m grown up I realise what a worry it must have been for my parents……..we also had bad winters here in 95 and 96…..95 my heating broke so had to spend nearly a week wearing a coat indoors…..my flat was freezing and ice began to form on the windows…the snow was piled up outside and we basically lived in the one room that had a separate gas heater.
Although the day was cold, the sky was a wonderful bright blue, as bright as any we had in the Summer, along the pathway there are rose bushes which in warmer months are covered with soft pink blooms while the air is filled with the steady drone of bees buzzing…..at eye level the bushes look all bedraggled and unsightly, however looking up, their orangey red haws looked spectacular against the blue of the sky.
The frosts have made the haws quite mushy and before we walked past them the bushes were filled with birds eating them….they all flew up as we approached, perched in neighbouring alder trees and settled back once we had passed by……..almost each time we’ve been on the marshes over the holidays we’ve seen a heron, and swans…last year must have been good for them as there are at least four different pairs on just the marshes near us.
As always one of the best parts of going out for a walk is the returning home to put the kettle on for a pot of tea….as I mentioned earlier I’m being very very clumsy at the moment and in a matter of days have broken my favourite tea pot (the handle just fell off in my hand) smashed a lovely large pudding bowl that was my Nanny’s (there were so many tears I really sobbed and sobbed ) and have managed to snip the tip off my finger with a pair of scissors that were a lot sharper than I realised (yes I am very talented)…..we’re now off for another walk as it’s dry out, fingers crossed I don’t trip up and fall in the river or something.