Here’s a happy thought: we’re halfway through January, or 1/24th of the way to Christmas. The ghastly unseasonal weather of the New Year—with the rain rainething every day, as Shakespeare’s Feste, one of the earliest weather forecasters in literature, so correctly predicted—has given way to a spell of winter as tight as the grip of a miser’s shrivelled fist.
Snow has come in the night, dusting the fields and pavements white; the latter are now especially treacherous, and people creep along as cautiously as tightrope walkers. Down by the river the footpaths are sheets of ice, and it’s fun to watch the dog walkers struggle to keep their feet as their excited charges jerk them back and forth in search of fresh scents, as unsteady as people trying on ice skates for the very first time.
I always get Proustian flashbacks to my time at school in this sort of weather, specifically the cross-country runs we had to go on. (Well, I say runs—we made a good show to the first corner, then dropped to a sort of shuffle just in case a teacher happened by, and finally, once we were out of sight of the school grounds, walked the rest of the way.)
Pointless though they were, they were never actually unpleasant, except when the wind from the tannery was blowing the wrong way—though for years I carried an image in my mind of us being harried by teachers with rifles on horseback, herding us into rivers and trapping us in nets, until I realised I was confusing my schooldays with the original Planet of the Apes movie.
There’s lots of parish news to get through this week, as everyone has obviously been very busy. First of all, apologies to Elisabeth for not having the comments on her new gansey open last week—she’s sent through some more pictures, which you can see here.
Lynne has taken inspiration from the herringbone/fish skeleton pattern from Norfolk Museums and has devised this splendid creation in deep ocean blue from Frangipani. And finally Katherine has sent pictures of this rather spiffing gansey based on Mrs Laidlaw’s pattern, with added zigzags.
Many congratulations to everyone concerned—and if your weather is at all like ours, you’ll be needing them right now.
One happy change that the weather has brought with the cold is actual clear blue sky and a low winter sun, our first of the year (my current theory on my allergies is that I’m intolerant of vitamin D). Curiously, the sickle moon is still visible even at noon, hanging there like a (fully operational) Death Star, which is a little unnerving. One of my favourite folk ballads has the line, “when the sun and moon meet in yonder glen, and that shall never be”—if only the writer had visited Caithness in January…