Today began, continued, and is about to end with a distinct absence of meteorological ergs. It’s cold. The Cardinal and I awoke to a white-out frost and a stove that was gasping for breakfast. The canal had frozen over again, although not (yet) quite so solidly as before, this being a quarter-inch skim and some accompanying slush.
The Moon first thing was a very skinny crescent and the sky was engaged in an evenly-matched battle to clear itself of cloud. In the end the Moon slipped quietly into hiding and neither blue sky nor clouds won a convincing supremacy. There was nothing convincing about even the middle.
The towpath, with its ambitions to become a quagmire, had been flash-frozen into the texture and consistency of uncooked wholemeal pastry; some small give, very little squelch, held a boot-print well.
I’ve oft wondered what earthworms do with themselves when their environment becomes near-solid. Do they retreat deeper into the ground or are they one of those creatures (Wood Frogs, Arctic Woolly Bear Caterpillars, Estate Agents, Politicians) that can be frozen solid and then revive unharmed when thawed?
Geese were doing their level – and not so level – best to warm up in the air. Chocks away, chaps, aerial aerobics for half an hour and then we’ll fly back to base and get dressed – and for goodness sake, if you must land on the canal then don’t forget to put your wheels down.
The trees this morning were deep in their slumbers and could not be disturbed for commentary. It was obvious that this one had been nowhere overnight – there were no rootprints in the frost. Sometimes you can see where the tree has quite patently tip-toed back from the pub.
Some of the birds were more cautious than others. This pair sat in the branches for not some little time, weighing the odds.
‘Shall we fly about a bit, Rupert? It may warm us up.’
‘Not a chance, Tarquin. I propose that we sit here until Springtime.’
‘Your feet have frozen to the branch again, haven’t they Rupert?’
‘Have you tried peeing on them? That sometimes works when my car door locks have frozen, but you have to be quick, otherwise you just add to the problem.’
‘I’ll give it a go, Tarquin. Just dont’ look. You know I can’t pee with someone in the same tree.’
In other news I wandered ahead a short hop, and discovered that there were no boats moored in the
foreseeable forewalkable. This meant that once the ice had indeed gone nigh-totally Slush-Puppy the Cardinal and I could make a good mile’s progress towards our aim – without discomnobulating anyone else on the way. We made it so, Number One.
The near-indecent lack of wind was just too good to waste after these past weeks (and weeks and weeks and weeks) of gust and blast. We didn’t get far, but we got far enough to cry ‘Achievement, I tell you, that was an achievement and no mistake!’
Alright, about a mile. A country mile.
The it of It was most clement indeed as we tickovered forth.
You know, we’re not really as green as we are cabbage-looking, and we – the Cardinal and I – moored up again once just through that bridge. We Hutsons have reduced Knowing When To Call It A Day to an art-form. I didn’t get where I am today, Reggie, by not knowing when to call it a day.
Thus it was not so very long after mooring again that the day decided on a spot of a change – again. It began with a flap of the canvas covers, demanded attention with a rattle of hail agin the portholes, and descended into a slightly hysterical blizzard – for about ten minutes. See lead photograph for details. The sheep were not impressed. The snow obviously wasn’t impressed either, since it didn’t settle.
This sultry little minx locked eyes with me and wouldn’t let go, as though it were all somehow my fault.
It all went away again as quickly as it had blown in.
Then it came back again, in the manner of someone re-entering a room with a furthermore, just when you thought that the argument had ended.
There’s no telling what tomorrow will bring. Mutton chops, possibly. A new rug for in front of the stove. A fresh skull for the “Mad Max” motif on the bow. According to the forecast (I’m sure that the Met Office just chuck chicken bones in the air and then make something up on the basis of how they land) I’ll be hydrothermally disconvenienced for a few days yet. Plenty of time to cure a fleece. I’ll dig out Mother’s instructions and a couple of old spoons.
It’s a damned good excuse to sit in front of the stove and pick my nose.
[The plastic surgeon’s sent me a catalogue.]
I wonder how Tarquin and Rupert fared? Did they decide to fly off or are they still in that tree, contemplating cold feet, early retirement and a migration to the Seychelles.
Talking of an early retirement… A fortified (rum) Horlicks first, methinks.
Not much chance of exercising economy with the coal in this weather. I shall have to bank up Mr Stove with fiscal abandon – chuck another Sunak on the fire and hope for the best.
Hmm. I wonder. Sheepskin underwear. Has anyone had any experience with it? I understand that the lanolin can be something of a problem with household linens.
Anyway. I witter on.
Chin-chin – and indeed baaa – Chihuahuaii.
Ian H., & Cardinal W.