Story telling from Australia
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.
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.
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.