Dull, snow-stained cloud around the hills showed the winter season storm approaching, rapidly, from the east. When it hit the village, pushed by a gale that tore at the hefty boughs of the beech trees, the air temperature was hovering near to zero. What fell wasn’t the mist of gentle, gradual flakes from remembered childhood, but a hammering array of dry, difficult fragments of ice that bit and stung right before the relentless wind.
Rattling on to the path, it scrunched underfoot where by it settled, although the breeze swirled crisp dry leaves into limited vortices in advance of scattering them yet again. With the arrival of the sturdy wind, the feeling of chilly was rigorous, numbing my forehead where hair no longer safeguards it.
Slender bands of ice fragments commenced to accumulate throughout the meadow, marking the clumps of hurry and the irregularities of the turf. The floor was solid and unyielding in the deeply crusted frost, nevertheless however bore not-very-random marks of exploration in which the evening flock of starlings had probed the soil for food stuff some days ahead of.
Only later, as I climbed in the direction of the top rated of the hill, did the hail slacken the temperature appeared to rise really a bit far too. The remaining particles of ice had been smaller, lighter and drifted alternatively than fell. A single speck, no more substantial than an apple pip, settled on my sleeve – displaying versus the dim cloth as a small, fantastic hexagon. Archetypal, embedded in our winter season lifestyle, but a thing I have not often observed.
I paused at the stile by the aged quarry, resting my hand extremely briefly on the sturdy, hammered guide cap that shields the prime of the gatepost. Outside of, a group of sheep clung shut to the hedgerow as they urgently grazed on the dry, yellowed grass of late winter.
As I climbed additional, the cloud thinned to the east, revealing the snowfields across the uplands. The snow past Pendam has been on the ground for a good month now and, as I headed again down the hill in the fading light-weight, the wind that had been at my back again now achieved me head-on – with a thick sleet embedded in it. To explain the scene as bleak would not do it justice.
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