Fifth January: Wintery Walks

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Winter might be the most demanding of all the seasons in the year. Spring and summer ask little for our appreciation. They present us with streets filled with flowers and trees filled with blossom, with orchards stuffed with ripening apples and blue skies filled with warmth. They present us with long, warm evenings to while away outdoors and hot, hot afternoons to visit unclimbed hills and uncharted lands. Autumn, likewise, presents us with parks turned auburn and the weather having a certain, undefinable richness to it. Certainly, autumn’s beauty, although somewhat famous, does come with a cost, but a good thick knit autumnal scarf can often feel like a friend as opposed to an enemy.

Winter is no doubt beautiful itself, but it is demanding in that beauty. The frost covered fields and the shock of the blue sky comes at the cost of dark nights and cold, cold fingers. The sight of breath misting above your head or hearing the far off calls of rooks settling down for the night comes with the dull numbness in the toes that is the beginning of the circulation cutting off.

Yet the cold snaps we get now I welcome in as happily as I welcome in the blossoms of May because they come so infrequently. I far prefer to walk through frost bitten fields with boots that crunch the earth beneath them than trudge through the mild winter that we’ve been having recently. The cold doesn’t come without its own delights either: it offers the beautiful excuse to visit pubs to warm up after frosty walks, or light a cheery log fire, or curl up with some book in a cosy armchair and leave the outside to its own tactics.

Today, I went walking in north Worcestershire with my friend from college, Mary (who has featured in this blog before). The weather was wonderfully chilly, hovering just above the 2 degree mark. In this icy weather, the countryside takes on its own type of gentle life. The winter world is one deep in comfortable hibernation, not looking for any reason to be disturbed from its warm slumber. We saw ponds covered with thick frost that had coots running along the surface of them, their oddshaped feet keeping careful balance on top of this delicate world. We found stubbled fields, touched with the dying light of the sun. We found frost covered grass and frozen puddles and a stillness that seemed to permeate the air around us.

Our hands got chilly and our faces felt number and number, but it’s a satisfying kind of pain in the beautiful cold of the winter. The winter moon stared dully down on us as the sun began its slow descent towards the other side of the planet and we trudged into a comfortable pub. Midwinter is quite the wonderful season.

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