Bright low sun; dark shadows stretch out crisscrossing the fields. I’ve walked here many times but the snow brings a freshness to the eye.
In snow you walk differently, pushing feet into soft snow, a dulled muffled crunching underneath, dragging up snow to expose fresh grass and earth. It’s harder work. Today's must be four to five inches deep; deeper where the wind has banked up the snow against hedges in small mounds.
Shall I follow other foot-printed paths or step out onto pristine ground where no-one has ever been before. I think about the Arctic.
Dark water either side as we slip-slide across the narrow wooden plank bridge into the fields.
Edging round the untouched surface, not wanting to spoil the expanse of white.
Small impressions on the surface where snow is dripping from overhanging branches; the tiny footprints of a deer.
Climbing into the wood, we struggle through the undergrowth and crawl under the wire fence. We've been here so many times before. Circling round the still pool, snagging our feet on hidden brambles under the snow, squeezing between fallen trees, it seems more overgrown than before. The surface of the pool looks sludgy grey white, frozen just enough to take the weight of a small bird or animal, whose path is etched across the ice.
Later, lying back on a snow bank, eyes closed, I listen hard; a dripping, the slight rustle of wind, birds calling occasionally, sound of a distant car, a child’s voice floating down from somewhere at the top of the hill, the crunching feet of my companion as he circles impatiently. I can feel the warmth of the sun above me, blue sky and white clouds and yellow catkins, it could almost be Spring. Below me the cold snow begins to penetrate my jacket.
A flash of a snipe we put up as we walk; not a usual visitor here. We watch it circle and disappear.
Walking in snow we draw lines, rough and deep, kicking up small mounds of fresh snow either side of our footprints. Here there have been many here before us; two ways, which way, our own way. Home.