There’s a point on the walk from my house to the station where the view down to the sea suddenly opens up. Ever since the shortest day, with dawn advancing (or is it retreating?) ever earlier, this view has increasingly been presaged by a pastel-coloured sky serving as a backdrop to the silhouette of the castle on the hill. Combined with the delicate birdsong which fills the gaps between cars, it is a rather lovely way to be greeted by the oncoming day.
This morning the moon hangs half-full, and where first thing it had seemed a bright, distant speck out of the rear windows of my house (as below), it now appears high above me, somehow larger, as though rendered in HD with crisp white features discernible even to these sleepy eyes.
As my coffee steamed on the worktop earlier, I spied robin cautiously making his way through the branches of the lime tree down to the feeder. There, a brief pause as he selects the most appealing morsel, and then he is gone, choosing the low flight path down to the bottom of the garden.
Not satisfied with simply showing off how fast he can escape if need be, robin actually takes an unnecessarily deft route between the branches of a bare, low shrub we have yet to identify. Perhaps it affords him a moment’s cover – a safe harbour in the event of any potential peril. But for me it is a spectacle and I raise my cup of coffee to this robin, already far more active and productive than I have been so far this morning.
Through the park I am joined by the dog walkers – oh, blessed are the dog walkers and their benevolent, reassuring presence at all hours in quiet streets – and the joggers; one man bounces softly past me clad head to toe in black Lycra with fluorescent trims, and he joins the robin in my mini catalogue of beings who have tackled this bright morning with more ambition than I have.
I am also inevitably joined on this parkland walk by a great number of water fowl; coots (or moorhens?) pad around the edges of the ponds, and the herring gull stalks about, eyeing everyone up with a steely gaze. Overhead, the unmistakable sound of two Canada geese flying together towards a destination unknown to me.
A fine mist moves across the surface of the ponds, and I find myself thankful for the millionth time for the existence of this wonderful park so close to our new home. That it serves not just as a sanctuary but actually a useful cut-through to so many destinations makes it such an asset.
As I write, my train glides quietly along the valleys north towards the High Weald, and in all directions now the low, bright sun illuminates the frosty landscape, leaving pockets still in frigid shade, waiting for their own moment in the spotlight.