This cold snap has put paid to spreading my home made compost and the delicious Puckamuck I mentioned last week. But it has brought other benefits instead. One of which is staying indoors and catching up with all sorts of jobs that I put off if there’s half a chance of being outside. The other is actually being outside when the sun sun is shining even if the temperature is below zero: on the coastal side of the South Downs we’ve had such a strange mixture of cold days in the last week or so, quite different to the weather just a few miles north of us. On foggy days there we’ve had crisp sun and the following day, vice versa. It doesn’t help that here in Westdean we’re in quite a frost-pocket so we’re probably chillier than most. Mind you, if it’s cold, sunny and windless it becomes quite magical with early morning hoar frost and then enough warmth in the sun that the birds sing, fish rise up beneath the ice in the pond and I am able to sit outside (albeit wrapped up well) with a cup of coffee and ponder on the delights of winter.

Which are many and varied: watching a thrush searching for snails, a green woodpecker for insects, seeing the sun turning frost into steam, wondering how the birds can be cajoled into springtime song by an hour or two of January sun, seeing the smoke from my bonfire gently drifting upwards, listening to children’s voices as they happily hurl logs into the village pond (little sods), and generally being thankful that I’m alive and able to take such pleasure in such small things. 

And at the same time contemplate that this time last year the snowdrops and early daffodils were flowering while today their noses are hardly above ground…with any luck that means the first mow of the year is still a couple of months away.