The wind has swung to the south, and, almost overnight, the snow has disappeared. The stark black and white of the past week has been replaced by drab green, black and a brittle brown. Although the sun is shining, the world has gone a little milky for me, and Ruby has to wear her fluorescent jacket in the woods again.
It has become a different world again, but I’m not stupid enough to think, even for a second, that winter has done with us. The heaviest snow is usually in January or February.
In the past these were always the hungry months. Stored supplies of food had been eaten, or had spoiled. A long winter would mean famine. It didn’t need to be cold, just long and dark. It is too cold for sowing seed and they would have to wait until May for the first fresh food. This was known as the Hungry Gap, and it killed the old and the very young alike.
As ever, the year must start with a windproof jacket and a new wool hat, boiled to mat the fibres together into the warmest wool you can imagine. I wear mittens that have been made like this, and they are the only gloves I have owned that will warm and dry a wet hand.
Thank you, sheep of the hills and moors.