And all at once, there was nothing

It began gently, with a slight overnight dusting a few days ago. Picturesque, but lacking substance. The next day it had grown to a pleasing inch atop the hedges, but still, when you chomped on it in wellies, the grass and soil came through. Since then it has snowed steadily in the afternoons and evenings and all is thickly blanketed. This is high quality A* snow. It squeaks and creaks underfoot but when kicked flies off in powdery waves. The garden looks sublime. All the clutter and detritus of the winter has been erased and what remains is transformed. Soft white caps on the umbellifer seed heads have a look of Japanese cloud pruned trees. The line of contorted hazel and willow is traced in white. Here and there there is a dash of yellow as an aconite pokes through, or a bold stroke of red or orange from a cornus, but it is the negative space, the bold expanse of white and ice blue nothing, that compels.

Lyra is utterly ecstatic. The samoyed half of her mix is well to the fore and, given half a chance, she would spend all day every day running around in the snow. Yesterday I resolved to take her for an extra long walk to get it out of her system. We took the road around to Butterlaw, marching down the middle of a wide expanse of virgin snow which, as Lyra discovered, had disguised several only lightly entirely frozen puddles adding a frisson of danger to paw placement. We were therefore fairly flabbergasted when, rounding a bend, we encountered a huge lorry slewed across a tight right-angled corner outside Tractor Tom’s. The back track, as we lovingly call it, is not an essential thoroughfare unless you live in, or are going to, Butterlaw house or its coterie of converted barns and old farm cottages. If you are going anywhere else there is an, admittedly fractionally longer, alternative route on a road much less wiggly, pot hole perforated and iced over/flooded/mud besmirched. We squeezed past trying, and likely failing, to look sympathetic.

We turned into the fields and Lyra was released to play. With barely a glance behind her she was off and into the thicket at the edge of the field. Lyra times her disappearances and reappearances like a virtuoso so that I am just on the edge of panic when a wiggle in a tuft of grass stalks or a sudden evacuation of a tree by a flock of finches places her. Occasionally, noting the rising note of worry in my calling, she realises I have not picked up on her carefully placed clue, and appears in the field, looking back with a cheeky grin before disappearing again quickly before I can do anything annoying with the lead. And so we progressed from field to field, Lyra always at least half a field away to be on the safe side (her estimate of my potential speed is flattering in the extreme) until I rounded the bend of the little wood and there she was, waiting for me on the path looking extremely smug. My theory that this might tire her out and make a snooze under the kitchen table more appealing proved a dud. It took four laps of the garden, a guest appearance by uncle Keith and the promise of copious treats to get her in and on each occasion thereafter that a door was left open for an instant she was out again and heading for the field or the wood at the back. Lachlan spent a very chilly 30 minutes in the field in PJs and wellies last night after letting her out for a late wee. Prodigious quantities of organic Red Leicester were deployed to get her back.

The Coos seem to be happier in the snow than the rain. They were rather aesthetically clustered round the new bale of straw this morning when I was out taking pictures and watched with some interest as I kneeled in the field, resplendent in elderly aran and a terrorist balaclava I found down the back of a chair in the porch, to get a good angle. Snouty popped over to check I was OK but the others stuck to their spots and tossed their dossets like the super models they are. I spotted Raymond surreptitiously combing Wonky Wendy’s hair when positioning the new bale yesterday so There is much family competition over cow photography at the moment. Lachlan’s staged his own photoshoot yesterday. The ultimate accolade will be a spot in next year’s family Christmas card. I spotted Raymond surreptitiously combing Wonky Wendy’s hair when positioning the new bale yesterday so it may be that a Dovecote productions Coo Pirelli Calendar will be on the cards. I wonder if the Coos have appointed an agent as yet….

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