November, as Ted Hughes wrote, is the month of the drowned dog. The weather of the last few days conjures his image so well. Ditches are full to the brim and the furrows of the freshly ploughed fields glisten with moisture. Today started differently. The first frost of the winter left its psychedelic swirls on the cars and each blade of grass was topped with a frozen crystal. They glistened in the early sun, which would soon tear them down.
The days of the analogue, the vintage bicycles, are done for this year. They rest their weary old bones in hibernation, awaiting the warmth of the Spring, which seems an eternity away. Today is the day of the digital bicycle, designed on a computer, a Schwinn ATB which serves as my winter ride, shod with slicks.
We journeyed awhile to the sounds of winter – the staccato calls of a distant flock of Pink Footed Geese and the three beats per second cluck of the Vikings, the Fieldfare, the winter thrushes. Wispy tailed Long Tailed Tits flit wraith like along the hedges, keeping pace and calling to other members of their extended group. Pheasants promenade, awaiting their hour of reckoning and partridges, French Partridges, not that most beautiful but exceedingly rare Grey Partridge, run along the road ahead of me like manic clockwork toys, before giving up and taking to the air and over the hedge into the field.
Yes, the day that started with blue sky and pink and grey clouds of sunrise changed in a heartbeat. The chill was sudden and the world’s eye became milky, as if stricken by glaucoma. The fog brought the coldness of iron as it blurred the edges of the landscape. It was time to return and Spinks Hill, always more picturesque under snow, loomed like a distant whaleback
As suddenly as it appeared the fog dissipated without warning and the sun, albeit a cold sun, reasserted control.