Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

Of hips and hoar frost

Winter waited until the day we left to put in an appearance, whitening hedgerows and roof tiles, freezing ponds and coating cars with a thick layer of frost that had to be scraped away from the car windscreen. It was the kind of pitch perfect winter morning that was begging for a walk in the woods, up hill and down dale, watching mist hover over sluggish rivers in valleys too deep for the sun to penetrate – a landscape of crisp, brittle beauty, all colour bleached from the world.

SONY DSC

Driving along roads that cried out for a camera (one that I’d left behind) I felt nostalgic for English winters with their occasional startling wonderland of blue sky and unexpected sunshine, shadows moving slowly across sloping fields to melt the morning frost. I longed to stay, to spend more precious time with family and friends I won’t see again for another year or so. Could we live in England I wondered?

As that thought crossed my mind we passed an allotment, still cloaked in early morning shadow and locked in the grip of a deep frost. I remembered icy winter mornings spent trying to turn frozen soil, gloved fingers stiff with cold; I remembered early afternoons chopping wood as the gloom descended, eyes watering, breath puffing like a steam train; and I remembered days and weeks of leaden grey skies, waiting for the ground to warm up enough to plant something – anything, broad beans maybe – that would still need protection from snap frosts for weeks ahead.

Those memories were as nothing compared to the beauty of that final winter morning. Take a look at some of the pictures posted on the BBC website that day and you’ll see what I mean.

It wasn't as snowy as this pic from my award-winning photographer sister Wendy, but you get the idea.

It wasn’t as snowy as this pic from my award-winning photographer sister Wendy, but you get the idea.

This last trip to England to see family and friends felt like it was over too soon; some people I had the luxury of seeing more than once, others briefly, some, sadly, not at all. It’s easy to say there will always be next year, but there may not be, so let me say now that I wish I’d spent more time walking, talking, visiting and listening, and less time shopping.

The frost was fleeting, it was gone by mid-morning but doubtless it will be back.

And sooner than us.

 

12 comments on “Of hips and hoar frost

  1. bkpyett
    November 27, 2014

    What a moving post Deb. I can remember in the reverse situation, not knowing if I’d ever return to Australia and family. One feels so torn. May you find peace and joy where ever you might be! ❤

    Like

  2. debhuntinbrokenhill
    November 27, 2014

    Hello Barbara, thank you for that lovely message and you’re right, the price I paid for moving country is always to feel like a part of me is left behind. Family and friends are very precious.

    Like

  3. monsoonwendy
    November 27, 2014

    The notion of “home” changes doesn’t it? Not so much a physical place, as a heart place; and a moveable feast at that. I am glad that you, along with Peter Allen, sometimes call Australia home. Big hugs from my other home. W

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      November 28, 2014

      Wendy you’re right, home is a place you can hold in your heart, hope your heart is full of love right now in your second home! x

      Like

  4. Emma
    November 27, 2014

    Miss you already.

    Like

  5. Eliza Waters
    November 28, 2014

    I love your writing! It always grabs me and I am taken along with you. Trips ‘home’ are never long enough, are they?

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      November 30, 2014

      Eliza thank you, and you’re right, when ‘home’ is in two places, you can never spend enough time in either of them!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Cathy Mayne
    November 28, 2014

    Deborah! You hate the cold…don’t you?! If you were here today, you wouldn’t be feeling quite as nostalgic, I promise you! 🙂

    Like

  7. candidkay
    November 28, 2014

    Ah, yes. The walking, talking and visiting–and even better if done in a softly falling snow on a not-so-bitter winter’s afternoon:).

    Like

  8. debhuntinbrokenhill
    November 30, 2014

    And it sounds like you’ve had a lot of that snow in America recently!

    Like

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This entry was posted on November 27, 2014 by and tagged , , , , .

I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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