Ice, when it comes, comes hard out of the blackness, and leaves snow on the top of Deer Hill.
Now, with a clear, eggshell sky, we walk the way we always walk, but not with the same awareness. The sun is low, and it has thrown bands of colour across the fields and moors where it has melted the frost on the south side of walls and hollows. There is no warmth in this sun, but it is as though the insubstantial light had melted the white frost.
The sun is so low now that it appears to roll up the slope of Pule Hill, like a burnished penny.. From time to time, I convince myself that I can feel a little warmth on my face, but, as soon as I stop, the frosted earth crawls up my legs and arms and pinches my finger tips and nose.
I make a mental note to wear another layer tomorrow.
The floodwater in the alder bushes is black, as though it is the very darkness out of which the night frost crawled. It crawled out of its stagnant water, dripping with ice, and froze everything it saw . . . the alder carr, the ditch, the road that snakes its way to Hey Green.
It hides in the deep pools till the sun loses its way in the afternoon, and the iron coldness returns.
During this brief day the trees twist in their tightly wrapped winter buds, and the timber grain glistens.
My cheeks feel the grain of a cold wind.
Janus, the God of January, wears a mask that faces two ways. He is the God who looks back to the past and is the gateway to the future spring, all at the same time. In Roman times, he was the keeper of doorways, the guardian of new beginnings.
So I put a pebble in the stream for him to watch over the landscape. I place it where the current eases a little, for to throw it in would be aggressive.
Janus says thank you by making my hands cold and wet.