A cold and icy trudge around the village today. The pavements have been ploughed and gritted – one of the delights of living up here. The paths by the golf course, river, and old line are too frozen to risk. There are quiet joys in the pavement walk. Lights and decorations up in windows, displayed on this dark day. The first hint of green emerging through the snow. Twinkling frost on walls, glittering silver. Friendly chat across the street. Dogs coming to greet me, while their owners stay at a careful distance. Such is life in this small community.
The weather here is much more volatile than up on the south-west coast of Scotland. In the last week the temperature has plunged below zero several time. We’ve had high winds, freezing fog, rain, mist and sun. The washing has frozen on the line, and almost been blown across the valley. The mountains have been covered with snow one day, and the next has been bright sunshine. The dog and I have basked in the spring temperatures of 11 or 12. In the south facing sun-lounge in this house, the temperature has reached a hot 24 degrees occasionally. The plants don’t seem entirely sure what to do – open out or retreat back into the soil. Today seems to have settled on spring again. Down in the park, the catkins are dangling, looking like miniature caterpillars. And in the garden, the daffodils have emerged with trumpets blazing, just in time for St David’s Day.
Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus! Happy St David’s Day! Off on my travels again tomorrow, leaving the dog behind in the care of one of other ‘aunts’ to await her owners return on Monday. I’m going to miss having the dog to look after. I’m heading to the south of England to help a friend clear out her mother’s house. Her mum has just died at the age of 100. A fair age, and a death more of a release than a sorrow. But with the traveling and the sorting, it may be a week or so before I blog again… or it might be tomorrow!
The stream has overflowed on to the road. Frozen water coats the surface. Gingerly I cross, digging each step into the iron hard ground. Heavy clouds hover over the valley, silver light reflecting from the estuary. The first flakes of snow spiral down, dancing around me as I walk. Despite hat and gloves, the wind nips at my nose, and toes and fingers start to freeze. I turn for home, hoping to arrive before the storm begins in earnest.
The grey slab rears up on top of the mountain, a landmark to focus on. Slowly I pant my way to the top of the track. The dog runs ahead – and back – and ahead again. At last I reach the summit. Relaxing, I rest my back on the sun-warmed stone. Face turned to the winter sunlight. From here Eryri is seen in all its beauty, snow-dusted peaks glowing. Behind me the sea is blue under clear skies. The Great Orme stretches out lazily in all its glory. Dog growing impatient, I shoulder my rucksack and move onwards, savouring the view.
NB: Eryri is the Welsh name for Snowdonia.
The water’s ebb exposes mudflats. Dotted with mussels, purple blue in the light. Razor shells lie on the surface of the mud, pearl white inside. Clouds scud across the blue sky, reflected in the sea. A gentle breeze bobs the boats up anddown. Beyond the harbour rears the Great Orme, basking in the winter sunlight. A leisurely afternoon.
A wet day. Rain drips down from the clouds, a seemingly endless supply. Clear skies over the mountains hint at better things to come. But the damp dawn sulks its way into mid-morning. The dog is waiting for her walk. Across the playing field we go. A boring green expanse becomes an exciting playground. Full of different sounds and smells. Tail wagging, ears twitching. Head turns at my call. Back on the lead to turn down the hill. Pavements, it seems, have an endless fascination. ‘I wonder who passed by there?’ – You can almost see the thought. Round the steep bit and on to the old mill. A brief stop at the paper-shop to buy the newspaper. A patient dog waits outside, greeting the passers-by. Then onwards, along by the side of the stream. Splashing in the puddles. Up through the old orchard. She covers twice the distance , bounding about. A slow progress along the road, then back through the playing field. Pausing to chase the ball. Returning to base, we sit by the heater in the summer-house, drying out. I check emails. She tries to read them. Then, bored, she falls to sleep across my toes. A successful morning.
NB For those who are wondering – no, I haven’t acquired a dog! Back in North Wales for a month, house and dog-sitting for friends while they visit Australia.
Joyful abandon fills the air as I kick the pile of leaves. The dog pounces and misses. Again. And again. Tail wagging wildly, eyes fixed on my feet. My spirit soars with the dry leaves. This dog is an autumn dog. Coat russet brown, blending into the bracken as we walk. Running ahead then returning to base. Pausing to be put on the lead at the roads – obviously a well-trodden way. Passing down a quiet street, turning sharp left – and there it is – the sea. The dog pulls slightly in her eagerness. Released, she heads straight for the waters edge. No hesitation. In she goes, paddling away. Sticks are found and thrown. Swimming through the water to retrieve them, coming into shore with a big shake of her fur. Again. And again. Simple delight. Until there are no more sticks to be found in this place. We turn and head back, along the woodland path. Smells and sounds abound – ears perk up, nose glued to the ground. Rabbits to be chased, squirrels to be pursued. More leaves to be attacked. One happy, wet dog makes its way home.