wild places

A lane in January.


January. The month named for the Roman god Janus, who looked both ways at once - to the past and to the future. So perhaps I’ll do just that. I’ll be frank though, I’m not January’s biggest fan. I’m a February baby and I remember too many years when the lead up to my birthday was one of ice and snow, so I wait to see what January brings. Will it be kind, or will it lash out?

So this year, we seem to have got off rather lightly. A lot of dull grey days, but not too cold. Then an icy spell and one unpleasant trip through slippery country lanes. A fall of snow and then more ice and finally heavy rain washing away all but the hardest patches of frozen snow.

Our daily trips along our lane were brought to a holt for a few days, when the grotty old chest infection that everybody seems to have had recently, finally found me. But apart from that, we were out and about most days.

The sunrise in January comes late, and on a number of mornings, we were blinded by the light as we made our way along the path. I love those moments when the sun breaks through and pierces the clouds. Even though it’s cold, somehow it immediately warms you up. Mind you, the Delinquent Dog and I are wary. We know that cars coming down the lane are probably blinded too and might not spot us as we dawdle along. We listen carefully for engine sounds and dive into the hedge when necessary.

On Instagram I see everyone posting pictures of snowdrops, but in the lane there are none. Nothing flowers yet in our cold corner of the county. Every morning, I look intently to see if there’s anything coming in, but for now, we have to be content with a shower of catkins on the hazels, the vivid yellows of the lichen on the blackthorn and an occasional mushroom spotted in the leafmould.

But look very closely indeed and there’s something much more wonderful happening. The oaks are already showing the tiny leaf buds which will eventually burst out into their green coats and now other buds are beginning to show in the hedge. Small signs of hope.

The sheep have become used to us now. We walk slowly up to the Thinking Gate and say hello to them, although we rarely go into the field, in deference to them and the Delinquent Dog’s delicate feelings. Instead we head back the way we came. Funnily enough, it’s like a totally different walk. A function of the way the light changes what we see.

January - it could have been worse. Roll on February…x

If you haven’t been here before, I should just say that most mornings, I walk the same route in the countryside near our home, with our rather antisocial rescue dog, noticing the seasonal changes, chatting with a particular oak tree and taking the odd load of photos (one of which I usually post to Instagram later in the afternoon or evening). If you use Instagram, you can find me here. Do say hello and leave a comment, it would be lovely to meet you there.

A January Gallery…