I’ve been roaming the hills a fair bit the last few days. Wandering around with my dog helps me clear my head, and I’ve been blessed with some great weather. As it’s been well below zero at night, there are ice sculptures in hidden brooks and crisp snow shining brightly as plastic where it’s melted and refrozen. On the moors you can see oddly whorled snowdrifts that look like rows of monks’ hoods. And it’s all illuminated by beautiful, crisp sunlight of amazing clarity. This is my favourite sort of weather.
There are a number of environments in close proximity to one another in these hills, and a fair amount of wildlife in them. The snow captures the passing of animals – I’ve seen tracks of badger, roe deer, rats (complete with little furrows in the snow from the tail whipping about while they gallop along), and squirrels – while the leafless, sleeping woods allow the keen-eyed to spot a number of them from time to time. The squirrels have been driving Doctor Magnus mad. I have tried explaining to him that he’ll never catch one; he doesn’t listen. Yesterday I came within twenty metres of a pair of deer in the woods. If you see them in a field they’ll take off, but under cover they don’t run. They remained absolutely stock still. Their brown coats are excellent camouflage, and to take your eye off them is to risk losing them. So we passed by on a slow arc, trying to get close, their heads rotating to follow our movement. Only when I walked directly toward them did they flee, and only then did the dog spot them. Brilliant noses, dogs, but not so great on the eyesight front. Predictably, this was one occasion I had decided to leave my phone at home. I’ve taken to doing this more and more when I’m walking. It’s liberating to let go of the 21st century, although it means I can’t share the deer.
Here’s a picture of a tree instead. It’s in a quarry we go to a lot, and has a rock caught in the fork between its primary branches. There’s a waterfall that comes and goes by its side, so half of it is trapped in ice. This is from last week, just before the last lot of snow we had.