The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 5 January 2009

Ice and Quiet

Five days into the new year and I’ve been for four walks. I’m quite pleased with that start.

Admittedly they’ve all been very short, there’s been a definite repetitive theme, and none could be classed as exciting, but it’s got to be better to be out there getting a bit of exercise than not – particularly whilst all of those muddy fields are frozen solid, the skies are blue and the air is crisp.

Worry not. I shall not be making a habit of commenting on my daily shuffle around the block (which is how I think of it, even though 75% of it is on fields and tracks). However, two things today did stand out.

On New Year’s Day on the same route we encountered three quarters of the population of the village out with their trousers tucked into their socks. Today, as expected, normality had resumed. I saw, but did not pass, one dog walker. Otherwise, I had all of the paths to myself. Call me unsociable (and it’s not that I particularly mind saying ‘hello’ repeatedly), but I prefer quiet to busy.

The most notable thing, though, was the ice. It wasn’t hoar-frost icy, as in previous days, this was good and proper ice that had me skating all over the place. A set of spikes would not have gone amiss.

When I looked out of the window at 4am it was raining (as I suspected before getting up to look; really must fix the guttering that was driving me to distraction and keeping me awake with its dripping). At some time after that the sky cleared, the rain froze and the thawing ground re-froze, leaving a layer of ice not just on the pavements and tracks, but even on parts of the fields.

The ice-rink-on-a-slope at a gateway was the trickiest of the slip-hazards, and at one section of track I took to the grass – not so much because of the slipperiness but because the ice was crunching disturbingly loudly under my feet, but by good fortune (and maybe the adoption of a flat footed waddle) I managed to get home without taking a spill.

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