A warm sunshine is flooding the valley with light and hope. Most of the snow has gone, except for the tops of the hills and cold, north-facing slopes
One such slope is a field that slopes steeply to the river. It gets sun only in the highest of summer, and it’s striped with what are called lynchets. Although this field is under permanent grass for sheep now, the lynchets must have been formed when the slope was ploughed, and that suggests an ancient field. The undulations, caused by the action of the slope on constantly ploughed soil, are picked out beautifully by the snow.
I sit and look. It would have been unimaginably hard growing stuff up here. I can only imagine it would have been oats, or root crops.
The canal behind me is still partially frozen. It has been a milky green, with the thin ice holding colours that seem to have come from the sky. They are the colours of air, not the usual ones of damp earth.
Where a tiny stream trickles down the hill and comes into the canal, the water almost never freezes, and here the mallards keep the water moving and taunt the dogs on the bank.
Birds are all around. I hear jackdaws in the cold field, and, up on the high moor, I hear the thin sreech-cry of a buzzard hunting for dead things the snow has left behind. Now, the robin’s song has become more confident, and the great tits are madly competing for females and territory.
Everywhere the colours are vibrating. The almost-fluorescent green of the moss on the rocks and the lichen on the trees. Even I respond with excitement and anticipation, though for me these colours are muted and blurred.
And then, suddenly on the woodland floor, I see the first shoots of snowdrops. I get down on my hands and knees, and marvel at the green and purple newness of it all.