I stopped work for Christmas yesterday and here I am with presents to wrap, food shopping to do and cards to deliver. But for an hour or so this morning I have decided to be still. Soon the house will be full of people and noise but this morning it is quiet. Overnight there has been a hard, hard frost and the valley glitters white in the pale winter sun. Behind the ridge on the far side of the valley the sky is pure and pale.
Although the sun is bright the air is still clear and cold and the bird feeders are thronged with birds comng and going, now great tits, now bluetits, now chaffinches. Yesterday I looked out of the kitchen window and thought "My god, there is an eagle in the walnut tree." Just fifty yards away, the walnut tree is over the fence of the side garden just in front of Ian's workshop. Of course it wasn't an eagle, it was a buzzard, but it stayed huge, beautiful, a wild visitor from another world, for fifteen minutes or so. Its feather markings were clear and strong in my field glasses.
Tomorrow the cold will be gone, the forecasters say, and I will miss it, so this morning I have wandered the garden. Last week we had some bare rooted plants delivered: hawthorn and blackthorn to extend the kitchen garden hedge, osier willow to try to grow my own shoots to make a willow igloo for the field (we take a long term view of life up here), rosa rugosa for the edge of the drive and Roseraie de l'Haye to plant in a big curve beyond the swing. We heeled them in, waiting for time to prepare and plant. Today the earth is, as the song says, hard as iron, water like a stone. No planting this week.
From the garden I can hear the cock calling, bossing his hens busily. The cats are on the cushion in the sun on the kitchen windowsill. There is nowhere on earth I would rather be than here, now.