With a busy day ahead of us Hoover and I were up on the paths, heading for the hills, almost as soon as it was light enough to see where we were going. It was a glorious morning, cold and crisp with one of the first frosts of the year decorating surfaces. Sun streaking low across the valley melted the crystals faster than our breath disappeared in thin air.
“Woow! Taste that freshness!” I told Hoover, but she was busy being a dragon. Across the field Brian’s woodburner told us that they were up too.
When I stooped to examine the frost Hoover stopped to see if it was worth eating. Disappointed she looked around us and catching sight of a rabbit on the far side of the churchyard was over the wall and chasing it round the belfry in no time.
“Come on, that dog!” I called. Hoover looked over her shoulder. What dog? She abandoned the rabbit and chased me instead.
Up on the hills the birds were celebrating the sun. We have had so much cloud this past year that even when the clear sky brings plummeting temperatures we all feel heady with pleasure at the clear blue. Handfuls of sparrows flung themselves about the hedges and Hoover darted from side to side in their wake. At the top of the hills the puddles remained frozen in the lea of the hedges, their surfaces crinkled like crushed silk. I restrained myself from jumping on them, preferring this first time of seeing them to just take pleasure in their mirror surfaces.
As we walked along the side of the field we spotted berries in the hedgerow that echoed the poppies that had clustered at
the side of the path during the summer. Scarlet red against the blue, with the glistening green of leaves about to fall from the vines created a false impression of summer, but I plunged my hands into my pockets to keep them warm, striding briskly on as Hoover sped ahead hunting for the deer she knows linger nearby in winter. At every open space she stopped to examine the horizon. I too examined the horizon, anxious to see the deer first.
Jay was far away in foreign lands, but due home the following day.
“Look, Hoover! Vapour trails!” Hoover takes scant notice of my conversation, responding to the words she knows and ignoring the rest. She nodded at the mention of her name, but galloped on when I pointed to the sky. No birds there for her to chase. High above us a plane turned west heading for South America. I thought of all those passengers packed so closely together – who was going home? Who starting some new adventure? My heart sang that the thought of Jay’s return. Although I love travelling too, I am glad to be at home on a day like this.
As we started our descent into the valley the sun streamed through the mist and the smoke of chimneys. Brian’s was no longer the only woodburner that had been lit. Now June’s and Julie’s and Karen and Nigel’s had all been lit as well The day was well started and it was time to get on.