I've just blown the cobwebs away with a New Year's Eve walk - I have ended the year as I intend to start the next - with exercise. It was mizzling with rain all the way, but very mild, and I only needed the lightest of waterproofs to keep me dry. I didn't take the camera, so the above photo's a bit of a cheat, and taken on a November day, but shows you the landscape.
I walked solidly for an hour, stopping only to look at the colours on leaves and to notice the FIRST CELENDINE OF THE YEAR - flowering still in the Old Year!!! Blimey - never seen them this early before.
The Filipendula (Meadowsweet to you and I) are past blooming along the valley, some with yellowing leaves and browning tips, and others gone over completely to chocolate brown with dropping wet leaves. There were splashes of colour still in the hedgerows, especially the acid yellow of the wild strawberry leaves interspersed with brighter green ones, the glassy green of Harts Tongue ferns, bottle green of ivy and holly leaves reflecting what light there was. A few Bramble leaves looked like they were on fire with their fierce sherbert yellow and rose pink and scarlet, and beach leaves danced nut-brown in the breeze.
The hilltops were shrouded in low cloud, which had settled like a hug across the valley, sinking into the woodland and masking the trees. The dead bracken clung to the steeper hillsides like a cinnamon-brown blanket, whilst in the depths of the hedgerows tiny creepers of Goosegrass were already growing up towards the light, and Hedge Sparrows played hide and seek.
The birds were quite noisy, though hard to identify against the dull light (and without my glasses on). A Thrush, startled by my approach, ceased singing until he had reached safety at the top of the tallest oak tree along the lane, and a Bullfinch swooped into cover in the Hazel behind the hedge.
In the woodland Hazel catkins were already showing, with the tiny little scarlet male flowers, and the Alder trees showing up maroon against the grey-green of the oak and ash, wound about with ivy like a leafy scarf.
What is life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?