Winter; she is a breathtaking beauty, magnificent and wonderful to behold, an enchanting sorceress, ice cold and merciless, yet also calming and hypnotic. If you fail to respect her laws, whilst gazing at her splendour, she will finish you off in a heartbeat.
On days like these I'd like to think of winter as a she instead of a he; a nordic queen instead of a frosty king. How could a king ever display such delicate radiance, such an exquisite palette of pastel colours? Winter in this guise to me clearly shows the hand of a woman. How very different from the blistering cold, the windy wetness of sleet and the deep darkness of a lightless winter night.
How could a man ever dream up what I was shown these past few days? Days of a sunrise in hues of pinks, oranges and gold, a setting moon in a sky of pink and purple, a full moon night still, cast in a bright, yet lifeless and cold light....
Such was the past week. Winter returned, first bringing a lot of snow, then a lot of cold.
Last weekend saw the coming of snow, about 35cm accumulating during saturday and sunday, covering the world in a thick, fluffy blanket of white, followed by a sharp dip in temperature on monday keeping it that way. The world became still, motionless, breathless. Nothing stirred. Nothing was to be heard. Then the skies cleared. And I mean really cleared! Such clear, dry, empty air.... You'd swear you could reach out and touch the stars. So bright. And so many! Until the moon would rise, blazing like the sun, yet with a light devoid of warmth, depth or colour. Colder than pale. A light that almost feels like it isn't there.
We were out late, gazing at the world around us. I can not remember seeing a night so bright as these. Everything covered in snow and ice, a huge full moon, not a whiff of clouds or wind. Not a sound but our feet on the squeaking snow or the occasional crack of a tree in the cold. The Geminids sent some of its scouts forward; blazing, streaks of lights across the deep blue skies.
Then moist air came sweeping in from the west, condensing into banks of fog along the hills and across the surface of the lakes. You could see where the air was coldest, that's where the mists were thickest. This moist air froze to anything instantly, encrusting the trees with ice crystals. In the light of the headlamps the branches glistened and glittered as if they were completely covered with diamonds.
The sunrises are another spectacle to behold.
In the east the skies slowly, very slowly transform from deep blue, to lighter blue, via pink to all sorts of oranges and gold, setting the bands of ice crystals across the sky ablaze. Since the sunrise these days takes hours, this colourful display changes rather slowly. But when you turn toward the west, you can see a full moon setting, very large low in the sky, which is coloured purple across the horizon, but turns pink over that. Below it all there are dark pine and spruce forests, covered with snow, snowy fields with lonesome, bright red farms and houses. No animals, no man... nothing.
Yet, despite all this bonechilling beauty, life goes on. Must go on. The snow brings some much needed exercise in the form of shovelling it, the cold in the form of bearing wood. The dogs need walking and the chickencoop cleaning. And those ladies and gents produce a lot of shit!! They spend their days inside, due to birdflu regulations and the cold, but leave no chance unused to escape!! If the door is opened, they rush toward it and I need to gentle shove them in- and aside, just to fill up their food- and waterdispensers. The latter freezes up, but up high, where the birds rest it is a lot less cold. I do not clean the coop every day, but apply the deep bed-principle. Spread a layer of hay over a layer of poop, until things start to get smelly. I once read that such a deep bed not only insulates, but actually generates a little warmth and when I clean it out it actually is not frozen, despite being lower then the waterdispenser. So there must be some truth in that.
The young hens from this year have begun laying, so finally we have some fresh eggs again, albeit small ones. The hatching instinct isn't there yet, so the eggs grow cold quite fast.