A New Year

The snow has all but gone from the secret valley, thanks to a sudden thaw, after the temperature rose from -15 centigrade to +6 centigrade. Some still clings to the gullies at the sides of the fields and on the colder banks of the hillside but elsewhere, in its place, is the battered appearance of a landscape after attack.
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Last night, New Year’s Eve, was seen out at our neighbours and good friends 3/4 mile up the road, at the farmhouse that is the centre of our farming life here. Although a cold night it was good to be able to walk there effortlessly (after ploughing our way through snow for several weeks or sliding around in the car). As the chimes of Big Ben in London struck twelve o’clock we all sang ‘Auld Langs Syne’ to the traditional sound of a lone piper – in this case lone because there was only one Scotsman present and he could play the bagpipes. And a couple of hours later I stepped out into the cold, still air to walk back down the hill to home.
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The secret valley at night – and some nights especially so – is a silent and dark place. Never menacing, it is a good time to reflect on times passed and to breathe in the air which seems to take on a different quality to daytime. Walking down the lane, with bands of snow periodically reminding me to watch my feet, I was aware that there were others on the move too. An alarmed rabbit shot across the road in front of me, diving into the hedge, it’s path being highlighted not by moonlight, for there was none, but by the sounds of leaves rustling and twigs breaking beneath it. The fox was far more discreet, the only witness to its passing, its distinctive musky scent.
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Our little river, now thawed out from the frozen state that it had been in gurgled and splashed its way into the distance. It had seemed odd not to be able to hear it when it had its lid of ice and snow for even in the hardest winters past it had not been known to freeze over.
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However, a touch of frost had given a magical dusting to the plants and fruits that had survived the onslaught of our early winter, for snow is rare at this time of year. January and February can be snowy and often we have none at all so who knows what the start of 2011 will bring?
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Approaching home, the reassuring smell of wood smoke drifted from the chimneys towards me. Warmth at last! And, as always, She-dog, our best companion, was there to greet us but not before raising a bleary eye from her bed, as if to say “what are you doing out at this time of day and at your age?”.
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And so to bed tired but with a warm, contented feeling both inside and outside. To live in the secret valley, isolated but surrounded by beauty and good friends, is such a privelege. Who knows what 2011 may bring but if the first days sunrise is to go by, it should be a good one!

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Happy New Year to you all…..
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13 thoughts on “A New Year

  1. Thanks for sharing your New Years evening! It was magical by the sound of it. I don't always comment but I never miss reading your blog. Thanks for your comments on mine…and most importantly, Happy New Year Johnson!

  2. Hello, Johnson, and Happy New Year! What a great post, and so kind of you to share your evening with us. I continue to search for my own Secret Valley, and until I find it (and after, if you keep writing!) I will enjoy every bit of your beautiful world. Best of luck in the New Year.

  3. Hello, i am new here, just followed your comment from Noelle's. I envy what you do as you said in your profile, work and hobby as one! Designing gardens is a dream for me, but instead of getting it in college i took Plant Physiology to be a scientist, hehe. Now i just look at gardens and envy the landscape designers. I can't imagine how negative temps really feel like and the pictures of everything seemingly white is maybe awesome, maybe boring, but i really don't know because we dont have it. But a different environment is totally enticing, at least for an experience. I love your photos.

  4. Hello Andrea and welcome to my blog. Thank you also for your kind words – I hope you will continue to find the blog of interest.I never imagined either, when I was at college, that I would earn my living designing and working in gardens. My specialism then was 'fine turf management' – I thought I would be destined for a living on golf courses – a game I have never even played! So you never know – you may be designing gardens yet…I can't imagine gardening in a tropical climate. All those beautiful plants that we are lucky if we can get them to survive in a heated greenhouse. Negative temperatures can get rather tedious after a while – roll on spring and warmer weather!Happy New YearJohnson

  5. Hi Johnson – have been thoroughly enjoying scrolling through your snowy, wintery holidays. Such beautiful, bucolic landscapes (and the leaping She Dog is full of awesome.) Thanks for chronicling. 🙂

  6. Hello Johnson – what a lovely suprise to find a fellow UK blogger, a gardening expert and one domiciled in a fave spot of England. Enoyed sharing your New Year walk and look forward to more posts. Thank you

  7. Hello Patio, thanks for calling by. Glad you have enjoyed the posts. City gardening is an area that I have no experience of – the closest so far was pruning some overgrown shrubs in the centre of Oxford. All that traffic and parking problems, give me the rural life any day; I shall keep my trips to London purely for pleasure!Johnson

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