After the recent rain storms the sky here looked clear and fine - with a kind of pure morning clarity. The wintry beauty of trees is enhanced by it. Trees stand out at this time of year with their own characters; knotty oaks, thready birch, spindly ash - and there is a remarkable grace to them, a lacy like pattern. Yet together from afar they have a solid permanence.
I rode through quiet lanes for a couple of hours, early, just after the light arrived. There were a lot of dog-walkers out - and then I passed the first of many cyclists; some dawdling along singles and couples and an impressive peloton of fit looking riders all dressed in blue and white matching jerseys. My mind raced from work issues to forthcoming holidays, from what to cook for supper to what books I need to read - a myriad of thoughts all in a few minutes. But the vision of the trees distracted me. They give the land a sense of rich solidity even in the deadness of winter, the rich veins running through cropless fields and vacant pasture - they save the view from barrenness. I marvelled at the water filled ruts across an open field - probably made by a tractor but now displaying sparkling flashes of intense brightness from the low lying sun.
Everything seemed so still today. My bike was remarkably quiet, considering it is in such poor condition, which seemed to amplify the silence. The damp, windless air feining a preclude to spring. The grass in pastures looks thick and rich in places and I passed willow trees that looked varnished with freshness. The soft air and mild weather results in a distant lingering mist, so that the colours of the bare woods on the horizon are dissolved into a tender soft blue wash like still smoke or shadows on snow.As I rode back towards home thinking that the wet stillness and silent immobility of things create a brief sense of spring I realise that, in fact, the land is in suspense. Nothing is happening, but it is as though something is about to happen - like the quiet pause in a movie score that sets you on edge before something jumps out to scare you - the suspense is full of mystery and expectation.
As I neared home I watched two horse riders approach, the clip-clopping sound slightly muffled by the damp air but getting gradually louder. As I passed the two girl riders greeted me with a "Happy New Year" - that made me smile. I do like the festive season.