Winter/Spring: two ways in the snow

The first day of Spring and the east wind has brought the biggest snowfall for a decade. In this mad start to March the hare runs across the newly ploughed field now furrowed with white. The last time I saw him here his feet were crackling the newly harvested stubble. Crunching the knee-deep snow on the unploughed road the wind whips the soil and snow into cappuccino froth drifts. The pale brown puffballs miraculously withstanding its gusting are sixteen tiny meadow pipits. Only on Sunday morning larks, burbling lightly, were rising along this road; in the bright blue sky a v-shaped microlight plane throbbed; a skein of greylags cackled constantly. Now under a heavy grey sky a solitary tractor has woven a tweed of tyre tracks on the compacted snow two feet above the road’s once black tarmac. At the side of the drift it has left a line of triangular markings in the teeth of this gale like the mouth of a great white shark. The luminescent yellow and orange v’s on the back of the ‘Highway Maintenance’ 4×4 advance then retreat, no way through.
On the dirty snow littoral between field’s entrance and road a line of bird footprints. The flat, louring sky makes them colourless, I think of ice-blue prints made on high mountains. I walk up to examine them then stand back to take a photo. In the picture my own footprints seem to metamorphose into those of the bird (after all, I do have two bird names). Black crows, rooks, ravens patrol this wasteland examining every footprint I leave. Under the corrugated lambing shed roof the blearing eyes, bleating tongues of the newborns are protected- for now- from their probing beaks. From the cattle shed where lowings echo down the centuries, millennia, from another winter birth that heralded a new beginning, a new Eden, a resurrection.
The wind brings the sour smell of silage shovelled by forklift from the stable floor and stacked into iced mounds by the field edge. Along the ditch that has drained the water from this once bog the wind sculpts the overhanging snow into cornices that grow and grow until they avalanche into the black water. Frills of bubbling crystal ice form around the waists of bramble tendrils that dip into this water, liminal. In the otherworld beneath the surface the delicately waving green weeds are immune to the weather, the strongest colour in this blanded landscape.
Out of the white/grey snow spindrift comes a man with a nose like an eagle. The wind has transformed his cheeks to the same colour as his red jacket. We meet at the crossroads. He warns me the drifts ahead are up to eight feet high. At the change of the seasons do I go on, on into Spring or retreat, back into Winter?9C25C555-4FD9-4D5A-B347-120718552D3D

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