I worked on my editing project for a couple of hours and ate a big salad for lunch, and then the call of the sunshine overwhelmed me at last and pushed me out the door. Brrr! It is COLD out there! There's a slick of ice over every paved surface, but the county has been around with the sand & gravel trucks, and have very kindly spread some on the walking paths as well as the streets, so it's just a matter of being a little more penguin-walky than usual.
After the turn out of the neighborhood by the back of the school, I knew I'd have to return to the house for the camera, so I took a shortcut back and fetched it. The winter palette of grey, green and brown was lit up everywhere with the silver and gold sparkles of sunshine on ice. The leaf litter of brown beech leaves underfoot was rimed in frost, each individual leaf stamped out in silver. Except for the barking of seals, it was still and quiet. I rounded the corner to find the tree-filled hollow that is often foot-deep with water completely frozen over: a bowl of white with trees sticking out and the seals turned out to be a gang of small boys, delightedly sliding about on the ice, whacking an ice-puck ahead of them with makeshift tree-branch hockey sticks.
Once I was well past the boys, the stillness descended again. I could hear birds once in awhile, but not much else. The creek alongside the path to the snail trail sported a saran-wrap thin skin of ice along each edge. An old woman walked toward me, and smiled as she said Hej!; my answering smile as big as hers. I could tell that her smile and greeting enveloped a whole joyful conversation of: Isn't it FINE out today? Isn't this WONDERFUL? My lungs filled and emptied, the cold air zinging in and filling every crevice as I swung my arms and strode along. I bit gently down on my dry lips, feeling them crinkle and dent and expand again.
On the way back around, I cut through the village green to stay in the sunlight as much as possible. A bunch of small brown sparrows chattered to each other in a leafless lilac bush, only falling silent as I came too near. A car pulled out from a driveway up the street and the tires spun, spraying sand and gravel as it slid, before getting a grip. I walked down the bare pear allé—it's a depressingly different sight in winter: all gnarled and twisted and stunted without the white flowers of spring or the green leaves of summer or the bright bounty of autumn pears to lend it allure.
A flock of rooks swung from the trees down to the grass ahead of me, big as cats. As long as I was walking they paid me no mind but as soon as I stopped to pull out the camera, they would swoop up and ahead to a safer distance. By this time, the skin of my chin was so cold it burned and I could feel every inch of my thighs through the too-thin denim of my jeans. Up the path between the school and our neighborhood, each small square of pavement was lined with crackled ice and here and there the plastic pop caps of New Year's Eve littered the frozen crunched grass, each tree covered in bright green moss, everything sparkling in the sun.
Already now, a scant 30 minutes after I came back inside, the sun is slanting down, shadows throwing themselves against the house; it will be dark pretty soon. But I know we got more than the day before; the light is on its way back.
Really Great Writing Out There Right Now: Stuff in perspective
Beautiful, Sorrowful & Moving: Days With My Father (thanks to courtesy for the link)