Twelve nights have passed. The storms have subsided. The paths in the valley are no longer streams but pouring rivulets have stripped their stones to the pink.
This land has known darkness but not the coldness nor stillness of the winter solstice. There has been no sleep for the drumming water, the muddy turning of bulbs in sliding sheets.
Flag irises and sedges lie bruised and battered. Wet and rotting trees downed by winds are shelled with fungi. Already tiny leaves of celandine and garlic mustard, sprigs of cow parsley are emerging with shoots of… snowdrops? No. Spanish bluebells emerging in winter’s midst.
Four young apple trees (Dumelow’s Seedling, Blenheim, Northern Greening, Epicure) stand bleary, irritable, puddle-footed. With anyone who plants trees or raises children I question what kind of world we’re bringing them into.
The Wheel of the Year is broken as the bicycle wheel with snapped spokes I heave from the mud. Flown from its axle long ago when the gears of the mills wound up in a cloud of smoke.
Winter’s King sits tense on his throne, his hand on the arm of his beloved, as if it’s nearly May Day. It seems his rival has learnt to walk in the dark.
The only thing that feels certain is the constancy of litter: crisp wrappers, cider bottles, cellophane and cardboard take-away boxes, footballs, tyres. A blue bin-lid filled with slugs.