The winter solstice was less than a fortnight ago, the festive celebrations have only just finished and we’re sitting right in the middle of winter. It’s still a time for cosying up, making comfort food and snuggling under quilts and the dismal weather over the festive season has meant that we’ve been doing a good deal of this in the last week or two. Yesterday we woke up to a New Years’ Day of beautiful wintry, watery sunshine though, and it drew us outside for a walk in our village wood.
There was no doubt that the wood was asleep – the predominant colour to be seen was brown – but immediately the little ones seized upon some small branches and sticks that had been blown from the trees in recent winds and announced that they were going to make a den.
Indoor dens are a frequent occurrence at our house. Every cushion is commandeered to furnish a shelter made out of a couple of chairs and some quilts and blankets. Outdoor dens may not be quite so cosy but there’s always a gleeful feeling to choosing just the right spot and collecting the branches that isn’t quite matched indoors, even by the prettiest floral indoor teepee. Even the dog joined in.
I am certain that Ray Mears wouldn’t award this den many points, it’s terribly draughty for a start, but the fun we had in building it far outweighed its lack of merit for actual outdoor survival. New Year always brings a feeling of fresh starts and optimism for me and our den-building added to that hopeful feeling.
Despite there being at least two more months until the start of Spring I saw one or two signs of that distant-seeming season whilst were walking home. The hedgerows were studded with tiny new cow parsley plants which will have self-seeded back in the autumn, and as we approached our cottage we spotted a tiny splash of yellow – a native primrose on the edge of the village green. It’s flowering impossibly early but it cemented this as one of the best walks ever.
Thanks for reading!