This is where I walked most of my life, in the wildwood; a small oasis of *tamed wild* in the suburbs where I grew up. This gnarled tree is ancient and just beyond it, a scrubby bush where I used to crawl and spend hours dreaming. I would dream of the future, which sometimes seemed bright, sometimes seemed very dark. This is the wildwood. Here you can find my soul, caught up amongst the leafy undergrowth.
We are flying to the uk today; off to do some Christmas shopping and visiting relatives. I had one quick chance to walk up the valley before we leave for the airport. The midwinter sun was insipid, but strong enough to catch the colours of the cliff side in the snow. I cannot believe how quickly the shortest day will be upon us and it will be again time to shutter ourselves away with candles and the fire blazing and enjoy some feasting. But before then we have a plane bound for London awaiting us. Bon voyage !
Sometimes within a matter of minutes the mountains can change. On my walk today, I came around a bend in the path to encounter an open field of snow with the most incredible drama unfolding in front of me; thick clouds were swirling over the sun creating a kind of eclipse as it clipped the edge of the hillside. It was like a ferocious turmoil blotting out the light, caught on a sea of pure deep blue. I was absolutely astonished by the sight. I snapped away and within a few moments the moment had gone.
One of the pleasures of my life is my kitchen. We live in an old chalet that was originally built as a summer house, so we have windows on every side of the building. This open aspect affords us the most incredible light. I spend a good deal of time in this kitchen watching the sun rise over the mountains, move across the floor and dip below the other houses in the village come evening. The position of the sun tells me when to start making lunch or preparing for supper, which around this time of year we normally eat with the shutters closed and the candles lit at the table. Our kitchen is not new, it is in fact, over thirty years old; we plan to modernise it some time next year. Until then, I am content to empty the bucket under the sink into the garden every time it gets full from washing the dishes and put up with the freezing cold tiles under foot. I don’t mind about these things as they in the end, contribute to the character of the place and help in creating my most beloved memories of food cooked and shared in this wonderful kitchen.
I haven’t been down to the river for a long time, so I took a walk with my friend today in the fresh snow. The mist enveloped the whole valley all day, so much so that in some places it was too thick to see a few yards in front of us but as it moved in pockets, vistas opened up and closed around us as we walked. The mountains looked sugar coated like a delicious desert topped with whipped cream, when we were able to catch a glimpse of them. It was almost dark when we made our way back along the cross country ski piste, not yet groomed and ready for skiers, as the lights of the town twinkled through the trees in some kind of quaint welcome home.
We took a walk up to the waterfall yesterday. The frozen mud was spectacularly golden in the mid-afternoon light. We wanted to see whether the waterfall had frozen yet, because even though it is still really early in the season, it has been so cold. Usually the waterfall freezes enough that we can skate on a little patch of thick ice under the bridge. No such luck today, the water was starting to freeze around the boulders however, but nowhere near enough for skating. There is another large waterfall further along the valley that we will head out to visit sometime soon, as I know the freezing torrent will make for some spectacular shots. On the way back the girls decided to pick up two huge branches and carry them back home. They had such a laugh trying to race along the track without hitting each other.
It was minus ten this morning at 8am as I went off for my walk. I traipse over the same routes again and again most days and it is sometimes a challenge to find something new to photograph but throughout the seasons, the details subtly change, which makes continued close observation very rewarding. At the moment the woods are pretty frigid, we have got the cold really early this year, but it is somehow more interesting to notice the tiny changes that take place day by day; the freeze and thaw, bark peeling, twigs breaking under the weight of snow, rocks moving under the river’s tow, the changing footprints of deer, wild boar and fox each night; these things bring me a deep connection to all that is alive and real in a world that can often be so full of the electronic and false.
Out for a winter walk in the valley today. The cold has come down really hard already and we have had a lot of snow. The farmers say that it is too early for snow however, which means we are going to have a warm winter but all the other reports are telling us to prepare for a harsh winter. I have a feeling it will be a harsh one as the fruit this autumn hung off the trees in swathes, which often indicates lots of snow :)