Saturday, 2 January 2010

New Year's Day on the Hills

Yesterday, (being New Year's Day), the Haldons called again. Up we went, encountering a little ice only at the turn to the bottom ridge...and then on the track the ground was frozen rather than icy. The forest - ever surprising, had kept some chill out and the paths were mainly just muddy save where some stretches of shallow water had turned to ice, or there was frost on parts of the forest floor that flanked the paths.
The light was extraordinary, long slanting golden light like a summer evening. And being a crystal blue sky with such a sun, and the day that it was, there were plenty of people on the trails.

How different to last New Year's Day! When one almost had second thoughts...but went anyway, to see. The mist was thick, and there were no panoramic views to be had, but the whole forest was hung with an exquisite hoar frost. The paths were all clear of snow or ice, but the entire place was a winter wonderland, all delicate silvers and grays, an infinite lace filigree to wander through. The mist was all sudden shadows and breathy veils - plumes of steam seemed to rise from some pines below the main ridge. The ground was covered in icing, the woods all cake and chiffon. The clear rime glimmered like a thousand diamonds even in the subdued light of the shrouds of low cloud. And there was almost no one else there. As ever, it was completely transformed, the special effects of another season. Full of unexpected moments, and of dazzling beauty.

That was last day of the electric ex-Finnish postal van - left stranded partway between hill and somewhere warm! The rescue van came at last in the fading light as the temperature dropped to below freezing, and one was just beginning to think it would never arrive. When the snow came, Telegraph Hill (the road that leads to the Haldons) was completely blocked. And the wait was on to find another van...hopefully one that worked!

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