Mythical and beautiful was the scene as I walked Jumble at Blackmoor Reserve this morning. The sky, frozen in cold blue and white-shading-to-pink-perfection, glittered in oddly ominous light; trees lined the route, their yellows and oranges still thickly clustered as if breathless, awaiting winter’s winnowing wind.
Up Burrington Combe, I drove – and, the further up I got, the more evidence of recent snow I saw. A chilly Brazilian of pinky-grey slush bisected the tarmac Mons Veneris of the road. Light snow packed the verges. The heavy greyness, with its peculiarly Fey inner light, a creepy radiance betokening fresh flakes, threatened overhead. Headlights were on, cars and lorries going carefully, slowly.
At the turn, I saw the steep slope of the road to Charterhouse frosted with white, the slush much thicker and damaged by patterned tyre tracks – and I wondered, with a frisson of fear, if it were safe to continue, especially as there is no phone signal in the wooded dips and hollows, the sheep-grazed hillocks.
But I carried on, curiosity, enchantment and Otherworld beckoning magic propelling me through anxiety’s twisted maze.
Carefully, carefully, I reversed, over deep road craters coated with thinnest ice, and whitened patches sewn with paw and foot embroidery, and left the car backed snugly up against an ancient stone.
The ground, as the dog tumbled out, looked more dangerous, forbidding and slippery than it actually was – but, after a tentative tight-tapping start, I settled into my usual stride, Jumbs scampering happily ahead.
We walked into the woods first. All was iced, still, beautiful, trees full of apricot-coloured leaves bright beacons; beach leaves still littering the squelching earth beneath the earlier snowy onslaught; the world suspended, an ice-hinged door, between the caers of autumn and winter; strange music filtering its twinkle through glittery fairy shapes seen only through eyes’ furthest corners.
Crunching melt accepted my boots readily. Jumble leapt down a bank, into the stream and tore up the other side, vanishing into temporary wintry oblivion. A large tree, posed like a mini island in the unfamiliarity of snow, foxed me briefly so that I wondered where the path had gone.
I strode on, revelling in the peculiarity of bells from ancient lands reverberating; loving the freedom of traversing my usual route backwards; hearing the plash of snow-melt as little rhynes grew full and lively and loud in the sudden stillness of air; seeing a thin smear of greasy-looking ice on the grim black surface of Jumbs’ belovèd pond; wondering at the long slip-marks of earlier walkers – and, all the time, aware of the mythical music of dwellers between the worlds and out of time as we know it.