Although for me Christmas is actually a quiet time of year, now that the main focus of my work is selling my prints and cards (rather than working on projects for publishers) I am swept up in the pre-Chritsmas retail extravaganza - and that is well under way by October!
So now there is a little lull. The weather has been relatively mild with only slight frosts and no snow, but a procession of dramatic gales is sweeping across the UK. Here in East Anglia we get the tail end of them, brief periods of heavy rain and strong gusts followed by clear skies again.
This morning we drove to the Fens in bright sunshine under clear blue skies and set out for a walk. But soon the clouds rolled over us and rain fell . . .
. . . swiftly followed by a rainbow.
As I was carefully picking my way around a muddy area by some fencing, I looked down and spotted a broken stick . . . NO! not a stick, it was an antler . . .
On all the walks I've done over the years I've wished to come across a shed antler and until today, I never had. This antler is quiet small, but beautifully tactile, I guessed it was from a Roe Buck – their mature antlers have 3 prongs, this one has 2 and knob lower down (near the palm of my hand) which means it's one of his second pair of antlers. A Roe Buck sheds his antlers in November and starts to grow the buds of the new antlers in December, he will be starting to grow his first full set this winter.
Near the end of our walk, Cliff spotted movement in a field of rough grass . . . I zoomed in with my camera . . .
Yes, a deer! But I was unsure what sort. Luckily it turned and I got some more close-ups . . .
Large black edged ears, a black muzzle and a white bottom. I'm familiar with a Roe Deer's auburn summer coat, but back home I did some research and this is definitely a Roe Deer with it's grey-brown winter fur.
I can't see any antler buds on its head and it has a large area of white fur beneath its small white tail, it is also fairly small (not much larger than a greyhound) - so this is probably a young female.
Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year – from now the days will start to get longer . . .
. . . and even though the coldest weather of the winter is yet to come and Spring is 3 months or more away, there is the a tiny hint of optimism in the air – here in our garden the snowdrops are already pushing their way through the decaying leaves.
Whatever Santa brings me for Christmas, I already have 2 lovely presents - a Roe Buck antler and I have mended ankles – thanks to excellent treatment, advice and special insoles from Nats-the-physio and Paul-the-Podiatrist . . . I'm enjoying inspiring winter walks once more :-)
I hope you can find time in the run up to Christmas for an interlude of calm between the storms.