Monday, 12 January 2009
Diamonds in the Snow
Yesterday I went for a walk with my friend Salamander. We took the path up to the woods above my house, the weather was perfect – sun, snow, a clear blue sky, a deep blue I have never seen in England. We are having extremely low temperatures at present -20 degrees last night. It is as they say too cold to snow, the water vapour stays in the air and forms snow-like crystals over everything. On Saturday morning you could even see the ice hanging in the air where the sunlight shafted down, minute crystals would flash in shimmering clouds, a glimpse of the spirits of the Czech winter working their magic. Now we reaped the benefit of their work, we walked through ankle-deep virgin snow, broken only by occasional animal tracks. On the snow's surface flowers of ice crystal bloomed and shone in the sunlight. The branches of the dark firs at the forest edge were picked out by white.
We walked through woods, now bereft of the birdsong which had accompanied my mushrooming forays in the summer and autumn, the only sound being the crunch of the snow and occasional branch crack. Ducking under an electric fence we followed the edge of the forest down a steep slope – in the distance the Klet was bathed in sun, but with a scarf of low cloud around its shoulders. Crossing a frozen stream we regained the path and returned to the house and warm mugs of tea.
As dusk fell Salamander departed and I settled down with a book whilst the woodstove chugged in the corner. Then the phone rang – it was Salamander. “If you can, take a look at the moon.” I walked into the yard at the end of the orchard the moon full hung just above the old apple trees – large and orange. The light was so bright, the orchard was lit up as if in daylight. This morning I left the house at 8am to walk to Horice na Sumave to catch the bus into town. The sun was rising and the sky was coloured. As I walked I watched the sun turn the white snow yellow and the ice on the trees a peach colour. My house stood glowing in the light on the other side of the village. And just to finish off the enchantment across the fields as bold as brass ran my fox. I had not seen him since my return from England at New Year. He looked across the field at me, sniffed the morning air and darted into the cover of the woods. The dawn sun had turned his coat a dark auburn. By the time I got to Horice the world was white again.