Paper-white sheep grazing a hillside stand bright against tempestuous, ravaging skies. Tractor lights burn life into otherwise dark and desolate mornings. Mud clings to wellingtons with unparalleled force.
The official onset of winter signals Christmas’ encapsulating joy, but also the suppressing weight of a long walk to summer.
It’s a time when the countryside can seem resentful. Resentful you dare leave the confines of your home. Resentful of cars navigating its twists and turns. Resentful of life itself.
Gnarled fallen twigs become the sole occupants of car parks, brown replaces gold and tourist hotspots, just trap the cold.
But life continues regardless.
Rural communities embattled against frozen mornings, gutters groan under the weight of winter storms, animals search for one more sustaining mouthful.
Intrinsically the landscape hasn’t changed. Admittedly streams may become rivers and rivers become floods. But beyond that, the bedrock is unaltered.
So life continues regardless.
Log fires sends smoke dancing from chimneys, hands search for the warmest recess of thick winter coats, shovels insurance against blanketing snow.
Hedgerows are enlivened with chattering birds, delicate hoof prints chart journeys across mountains and tiny red berries become nature’s bright lights.
Because there is life.
The beauty hasn’t gone, just changed. The landscape curates different sounds, different images, a different aura, but it’s not one to be frightened of.
Relish your empty walk, long warming lunches and the crackle of fires. Embrace the cold, mud and rain. Most of all make the most of the countryside, it’s there to be loved.