Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Stepping out onto a Frosty field.

Firstly an apology. Its been sometime since my last blog. I think that was way back in October, towards the end. Much has happened since then but I won't go into that other than telling you that I got engaged just before Christmas. I'm a very happy man at this moment in my life.


This morning, early, I woke to a land filled with magic. A land of tiny ice crystals & crisp delights. Darkness was taking its time to make way for day but already there were clues that Jack Frost had paid a visit. A blue light within the room & at first a reluctance to leave the comfort & warmth of my duvet. Downstairs I peered out, my car white with ice & all around, still & blue. After ten minutes the car was warm & driving the two & a bit miles home from Jill's place I could more clearly see the overnight makeover by the good hands of Mr Frost. An Ash tree, tall & grand, its branches, every one coated in a billion tiny ice crystals, backlit by the slowly rising sun. Hazy yet bright, the tree rigid in the shock of Winters breath.

A beautiful Ash, tall & defiant in Winters embrace.
 Reaching home there was no time for coffee. On went the woollens, camera ( really should have been a sketchbook ) stuffed into a bag & out into the garden I went. My breath like a Dragon, warm wisps & puffs, tobacco hued & illuminated by the sun. Looking across the garden into the fields beyond, that is where I wanted to be. Passing the Ash tree which stands at the corner I paused to see if the Tawny was in residence within the box I had put there two years previous. It was, a quarter of its round feathered face & one eye peeped at me momentarily before dipping back down into its wooden roost.
The field was bright with frost, the grass brittle, crunching beneath my wellied feet as I strode out into Jack Frost's playground. Gone now the washed out verdancy of a muddy Winters field, pitted & pot marked with brown puddles from the Horses hooves. Instead the putty like consistency of a few days earlier replaced with sugar coated grass, concrete mud & each round Horse hoof shaped puddle, a spiders web of ringleted ice.

Slicing the field in two, a cold clear trickle of water.

 A narrow snake like trickle of cold clear water, verdant with plants, slices the field in two, its edges crisp with tiny shelves of suspended razor thin ice, fragile & glassy. Following this tiny channel of water towards the lake, a flock of Wigeon take flight from the only patch of lake unfrozen & circle overhead for a minute or two. I stand still & wait for them to alight once more, enjoying their calls of pe-ou pe-ou, so evocative of days spent sketching them on Dinefwr ponds more than twenty years ago. Moving away from the lake as I don't want to put them up again I continue to follow along the side of the brook & eventually down into the trench of it & at this point realising that I have put the wellies on with the leak & my right heel feels the shock of freezing water as it rushes in.

 The sides strewn here & there with thistles & Bramble, the latter scarlet in the morning sun, edged in pin pricks of ice, a coating of Fairy dust. In the shadows, cool greens with echoes of sharp blues & purples. Against the sunlight, now bright & yellow, backlit little ferns & leaves of Bramble, beautiful & frozen & still, so still. Even a whisper would hang in this mornings thin air for an eternity.

Like the vermillion fins of a Rudd in the murk of a pond, Bramble in Winter.

 I adore frost & all its qualities, the way it completely changes the landscape. Its not like Snow which blankets everything & even changes the form & shape of whatever it falls upon, although that too is very special & has its own wonder & magic. Frost coats the landscape but the landscape is still definable under Jack Frosts breath.
Photos are snapped as are twigs beneath my feet, brittle & bone like. Some paintings will come from this mornings wander, subtle hued & restricted palette yet full of light & with luck some of the atmosphere of the day.
On returning back up the field after rounding the lake, careful not to put the Wigeon up again, through the garden gate & indoors, ready for a coffee. On boiling the kettle I found that I had run out. Nevermind, anything hot would do but somehow Nettle tea doesn't quite cut it on a day like this.

I'll leave you with one of my favourite paintings that I did some years back of Dryslwyn castle on a freezing Winters morning. It was painted in oils on canvas & was 1metre square.

1 comment:

Mike Woodcock said...

Beautiful, both the pictures and the prose.