I hope you had a peaceful and happy Christmas, the festivities came and went before I realised that I hadn't put a Chritsmas post here on PPPs. The weeks before Christmas were for me, busier than I could have foreseen – but thanks to my very efficient and reliable frame maker, I was able to keep the galleries supplied with framed prints for their Christmas/New Year exhibitions. Then, in the week before Christmas two non-festive things happened . . . we were woken in the night to learn that Cliff's elderly aunt had passed away, she was frail and approached her life's end slowly but although her passing was inevitable we were sad. Then, just two days later, a dear friend, weakened by past cancer treatment, lost his battle to withstand a chest infection . . . his death was a jolt and saddened us much more.
So Christmas for us was a quiet and reflective time.
We are now at the turning of the year . . . a time for new beginnings and looking forward, which is just what I need.
This week began grey and foggy, what few hours of daylight we get at this time of year was filtered through a double layer of dirty 'nets'. Yesterday I went for a walk with friends before having lunch in the local pub, we walked over fields frozen solid and dusted with frost – like icing sugar on a giant chocolate log cake.
In the evening I had to drive over the border into Cambridgeshire, along dark winding lanes;
visibility was about 20 metres and the car warning message continuously
flashed to remind me of "danger of ice" . . . it was -3C. On the way
home I sensed that something strange was happening, in places the fog
was becoming thinner and the trees seemed different . . . white and
This morning the fog had completely gone! Overnight all the tiny droplets of water in the air had formed ice crystals attached to every twig and leaf . . . this was a opportunity not to be missed, after breakfast I went out for a walk with my camera.
I crossed the road opposite my studio and walked down the path behind behind the village church . . .
. . . and emerged into a magical glittering ice-crystal world . . .
As I returned along the field edges I heard a strange sound – the crackling, splintering, tinkling sound of ice crystals falling from the branches high above.
The winter sun's warmth was enough to melt the crystals and they fell like snow all around me, onto the frozen ground.
I've decided to make a few changes to my "online presence" so I have closed my Etsy shop until early in 2013 to give it a major refit. The new look shop will still stock the best-selling card designs but there will be new cards . . . the first of these will be new prints and cards for Valentine's Day :-)
And I'm thinking of giving the shop a new name . . . what do you think?
The little red hen will still be part of my brand logo, but she will no-longer work as my online-agent – it's time to blog and run the shop as the real me.
Winter has arrived . . . in the morning the grass and roofs are white with frost and the hens' water is frozen. This morning it would have been very easy to snuggle down into the blankets and stay there – BUT is was sunny! A glorious deep blue sky and a low winter sun was just too good to waste
. . . we went for a walk . . .
Cliff is planning a route for the local walking group, for the last Sunday in the year; it's a Fen walk, so we've been checking out a network of Fen tracks and droves (after 20 years I think I've convinced him that there's more to the Fens than just flat fields).
I'm proud to say I'm a "Fenwoman; I know that may provoke snorks of derision and mentions of webbed feet and dubious ancestry, and I don't care! The Fens are unique and they are made by the people that have lived and worked there for centuries. Not just since the drainage of the Fens but Dutch drainage engineers in the 17th Century; the Fen story goes back longer than that: Medieval trading ports; Roman canals taking goods to the far reaches of empire and Neolithic fur traders all played their part.
Today, what can we see? Water held back from the land by strong straight earth banks; the long deep waterways are called 'lodes', they take water from the smaller 'dykes' and feed it into the 'levels' – those long man-made rivers that take the water to the The Wash (the large bay on the North Sea coast). East Anglia has been spared the torrential rain of recent weeks and although water levels are high there has been very little flooding. You can see the water in the lode is much higher than the fields on the right.
Fens are a landscape of air, water and earth; you have to accept that mud, "slub", "clag" is a fact of life. The beauty is in the details, you need to learn to look and to listen. The wind through the reeds which line the edge of the lodes and dykes, is like the rustle of taffeta or the whispers of a hushed crowd.
The air is rarely empty . . . skeins of migrating swans, charms of goldfinches and here – a flapping flock of lapwings cross the sky.
The grey and brown tangles of dead vegetation are alive with birds, like this female reed bunting.
And occasionally along the lode you will see a magnificent mute swan in full sail.