| Rolling snowballs the size of tumbledriers down the hill|
|The cries of sheep and rooks drifted on a bitter wind as they clustered around cairns of haylage. The pitch of their voices echoed one another: hard times, they said. No sooner had the vernal equinox gone out of the front door than snow piled in round the back. It snowed solidly for days, drifting under cars and over gravestones in the churchyard where bridesmaids in lacy dresses held parasols – "nice day for a white wedding".|
A woodpigeon and a jay edged around each other like exotic wrestlers in a small scrape pecking crumbs. In the shelter of trees, robin and dunnock swallowed their songs but would not be silenced completely by the thickening quiet. A woodpecker drummed in the high ash of the coppice where rooks gathered, scanning the field in case a lamb pegged out or spring came back or something, anything. Wet, heavy snow, shovelled in on an Arctic wind, had skittled trees across the old railway line like barricades.
There were sticks and broken branches everywhere, and on the third day, a great bough from a field maple was downed with a shock, like meeting someone familiar with a terrible wound. Laurels and garden conifers splayed under the weight of white dollops. In the park, thrushes and fieldfares stabbed about in tiny puddles of grass under western red cedars and from there uphill to the Edge, the snow smothered with deadly seriousness.
In response to this, someone made a beautiful snow figure sitting on a bench, and we rolled snowballs the size of tumbledriers down the hill. The wind pushed spoons of snowdrift between gaps in hedges at the top, and the fields deepened to waist height in windrows piled against the wood. For the first time that I know, the path was impassable: too deep, too much like hard work for too far. As if to gloat, a raven slewed above giving a double "kronk" – hard times – through dancing snowflakes