A Winter’s Walk

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 Picture perfect winter days have been few and far between this season and when they do deign to appear I’m like a child again, eager to step forth into the white hued countryside, to inhale the crisp icy air, to stomp on the frozen puddles and lakes sending ripples of cracks zigzagging along the ice.

On my quest one sunny Sunday I join my son on his regular long (ie. very long for me) walk through the local nature reserve, across the fields to the local town. A new route for me as I’ve only taken the road there but trusting his navigational skills, I duly follow!

The nature reserve is a lush wood with a few smaller lakes and a central flat grass area with picnic tables dotted around. It is a hidden gem and luckily only twenty metres or so from our house. It has not always been a protected area of natural beauty however and until the 1960s it was a sand and gravel quarry – not too successful by all accounts as the American airforce considered the quality of the product inferior and was unable to use the gravel and sand from here when building the runway at the local airfield. After its closure the quarry became unflatteringly known as the ‘Pits’, the holes filled with water and some fish were introduced for anglers. It remained bleak and barren until adopted by the village in the 1980s and today it is managed to a high standard.

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As  I cross the level plain I glance again – after all is this snow or white sand? It’s deceptive in this play between light and shadow, my eyes blinded by the sunlight.

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Again the mystery of light enhances my feelings of the mystical as I look into the woods, recalling the old-time sagas, remembering the Nordic myths…I almost expect to witness a troll staring back at me and after a pause, a shrug, continue on the walk, my disappointment palpable and real.

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What is it about paths that just beckon to be explored? Where could they lead? There are so many to choose from, I want to veer off, investigate further but my son leads the way and dutifully I follow, musing. Paths. Like the ones out here in the wilderness (of sorts!), life offers up many diverse paths, opportunities and various factors determine which ones we choose to follow, which ones we perhaps return to at a later date, which ones…I realise I’m dawdling and hurry to catch up, my reflections forgotten, as I carefully traverse the rough ground. 

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Frozen in time the leaves, solid in their white coats, catch my eye, their gold, amber and brown colours cloaked in frosty layers. Striking in their unusual state it will not be long before the warmer air frees them from their enhanced beauty and as the soil turns to mud they’ll gradually mulch into the field, another state, another time.

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The bridge, at times flooded from the troubled waters of the stream flowing beneath it, is a safe crossing for us this time and the tractor’s tracks of upturned mud are frozen into solid peaks and troughs. I step gingerly in between them.

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The pools of water are scattered across the plain, their surfaces covered with fragile thin layers of ice, like the veneer we often display to others, the false confidence, joy, certainty. Like the ice here, so easily shattered, transitory.

Good fun memories flow come to mind; of my toddler son jumping with glee on the ice, winter suit wet and muddied, of stick battles with the frozen puddles, swishing huge pieces of two inch thick slabs of ice across the slippery grass, an alternative version to ice-hockey. Memories so much a part of us, part of our past and our present and even our future. 

Content, exhausted, refreshed I return home…like the child of the early morning I long for a hot chocolate and biscuit break – the only difference is now I’ll be making them!

‘I was sorry to hear my name mentioned as one of the great authors because they have a sad habit of dying off. Chaucer is dead, so is Milton, so is Shakespeare, and I am not feeling very well myself.’  Mark Twain

124 thoughts on “A Winter’s Walk

    1. Jackie, that is indeed a very different walk but I would love to walk through a snowy landscape – snapping photos en route! 😀Shovelling the path, though…hmm…I could kindly ask my son! Thank you so much for your lovely comment!😀❤️

    1. Thank you so much! 😀 There really is nothing like a long walk to drift away in one’s thoughts, clear the head and come home feeling refreshed. Alas the cold, wet and grey days lately have been very uninspiring!

  1. A lovely winter walk Annika, I enjoyed your pictures, your reflections and the way you wove your memories into the landscape. And I’m sure the trolls were there – just a little shy these days perhaps 🙂

    1. Ahh, Andrea, I just love the thought of the shy trolls peeking at us as we walked by but not daring to show themselves! 😀Who knows, one day perhaps I’ll glimpse them…So glad you enjoyed reading the post and the interweaving of thoughts and views are very much how the walk was in real life and is such a vital part of communication with nature (and my son!).

  2. This was truly a beautiful post full of several emotions, Annika. Depending on which stretch of the walk, you touched reminisces, a sense of unity with nature, fun and contemplative moments.
    Our local trio of quarries (I love the name, the “pits!”) could evoke some of the same emotions. The journey shared with your son makes this so much more special. ❤

    1. Robin, I love it that you also have a quarry (a trio no less!!) walk nearby and can easily relate to the various emotions of such a brief outing. Of course, it was extra special being out with my son and getting a chance to talk without interruptions, letting our thoughts swing back and forth and enjoy the beauty together. Thank you so much for your warm, reflective comment and wishing you many happy contemplative musings whilst out in nature. 😃❤️

  3. A fabulous post Annika. Your images and words are perfect. I hadn’t heard this song before. Quite catchy and a good video. Thanks for creating, writing and posting. Have a great Sunday. x

    1. Thank you so much, Dorne – it was a perfect winter’s day. I’m lucky to hear new music from my son including this one. I agree, very catchy and the video is terrific. They’re from Denmark and it’s interesting how much modern music comes from Scandinavia! Hope you’re having a lovely Sunday today. 😀

  4. What a beautiful walk Annika, you described it so eloquently that I felt as though I’d gone along with you. My 16yo son has been coming along with me on my evening walks lately, but he doesn’t dawdle, he scoots ahead on his rip stick! Wonderful post.

    1. Miriam, lovely to have you along, alas only virtually! 😃❤️ I love that you and your son head out in the evenings even if he is racing ahead – never having heard of rip stick before I had to go and investigate. What a terrific word and like a skateboard but looks even harder and more unsteady. Is it used for ‘tricks’ like the skateboards?

      1. Oh yes, but he’s still mastering it. And you’re right, it’s super hard to balance, at least for me. I’ve tried numerous times and inevitably end up on my behind! So now I leave it to him! Which is the way it should be I guess. 😊 Have a fabulous weekend.

  5. Annika, I believe a lovely commune with nature does our soul good. It is nice that you have these woods near you, and that you have a wonderful history there also. I’m sure spending that time with your son was quite special, I still miss my college boy. Exquisite photos, I liked the hint of mystery and who doesn’t like a troll, ha ha.

    1. Ah…it can’t be easy to have your son away at college, Lana. I have a couple of years yet before my son leaves but I don’t dare think about that! Your description of the walk as a ‘commune with nature’ is spot on and it does become a spiritual experience. I’ve always loved the idea of trolls and as young had several of the figures on my desk…who knows, all I can do is keep looking!😀 Wishing you a very happy weekend – will your son be coming home?

      1. I would say definitely live in the moment with your son, Annika. These are precious times. My son is now in his second year, so alas, he doesn’t come home much. He has always been so independent, though. I often joke that he would have been fine leaving home when he was five years old, lol. I have learned to adjust to this brave, new life. Sometimes, though, when you see those elements tinged with loneliness and wistfulness in my poems, that is probably where it comes from, missing those days. Kids grow up so fast! I would say keep looking for trolls…there may be a troll in that forest that is in need of his story to be told 😀 I hope you have a wonderful weekend also, Annika!

  6. I feel like I’m there and walking through that wood.. I love your description of the thin ice.. Good to meet you – I read your comment on Miriam’s blog and thought I’d pop across and say hello to a fellow Brit! I’m glad I did.. x

    1. Oh, Wendy, I fear your comment was lingering in spam for a while – so sorry! Thank you so much for your warm comment and lovely to ‘meet’ you too. The ice is often deceptive and some winters we have been able to walk on the lakes…no chance this relatively warm winter! It was a wonderful magical winterwonderland walk!

      1. Aww – thanks so much for coming back to me.. I know.. the wonder of wordpress and spam.. I never quite get it and you’ve just reminded me that I’ve not checked mine for a while either.. Your walk definitely looked like winter wonderland – lovely! x

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment which means a lot to me! 😀😃 Although this is a factual description of the walk I love that it comes across as a short story – my favourite format!

  7. Beautiful post. I grew up in an area that had several ‘pits’. Your village has certainly created a beautiful place out of an area that could look ravaged. You and your son are fortunate to have nature so close at hand. Thank you for sharing your walk with your son. 🐞

    1. Johanna, thank you so much and it was a pleasure to share here – always a good excuse to look through the photos and relive the walk! 😀 The irony is that the ‘Pits’ was only handed to the village to become a nature reserve as part of an agreement with a local builder to gain permission for the new houses he built on the rest of the land! It all worked out though and everyone benefits!

  8. We’ve been so lucky this Autumn and for most of January in that we’ve enjoyed such beautiful cold and frosty mornings like the one in your photos, Annika. Certainly helps in clearing away the cobwebs in our heads on mornings like this. May you get many more winter days like this one. Beautiful photography.

    1. Hugh, I wish there were more mornings like this! There’s been quite a few and then everything just seems to click and it is so refreshing going out. The current cold, damp and grey weather is just disheartening…Fingers crossed for some more winter sunshine!

  9. Annika, your photos are both soothing and beautiful and fit so well with the peaceful rhythm of your words. What a lovely day. What a wonderful memory. Thank you for taking me along on your journey! ❤

    1. Carol, thank you so much for your considered and insightful comment. It was lovely to have you along! 😀♥️ The walk did become quite a spiritual in many ways and yes, a memory I will treasure! Days like these are the real gifts in life.

    1. Lovey to ‘meet’ you too,Nancy!😀😀 It is wonderful to see the transformation of this area, although I’ve only see the pre-wood Pits from photographs, it did seem very bleak. I had to smile at reading that the sand and gravel was actually below par and unusable by the American airforce.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind, generous words, Carol. 😀 It was a joy to share in my son’s walk and wonderful to relive it by sharing the photos and writing about my thoughts etc.

    1. Tina, that is one of favourite photographs – I just love taking photos of leaves and tree trunks! I’m sure my son thinks me most odd! 😀 The first time we viewed our house which is close to the nature reserve I wanted to put an offer in on the spot – a great house which needed doing up but also such a lovely outdoor place on our doorstep.

  10. I’m glad to hear that the local people have started taking care of the former quarry and have made something of it. From your description, I think I’d love to have a walk around it myself. I’m not sure I’d be jumping into too many icy puddles, though. I’m now much more worried about getting my socks wet than I once was.

    1. It is a wonder what they have achieved with this site and it is interesting to look at the photographs before the wood was there – very bleak indeed! It is beautiful and especially so this time of year…as for the icy puddles, they can be trouble! More than once ended up with soaked socks and shoes – even lost my wellie in the lake once!

  11. Light in the forest… I glanced out this morning as the winter sun crossed above the mountain crest to the east of our home. I was looking to the west and the sun shown nearly green on the bear trunks and limbs of the oak and maple trees. I thought of taking a photo, but did not think that the color would come across. I decided to just enjoy looking at it for a few minutes until the sun moved higher and the effect disappeared. Enjoy your reflections on your walks.
    Oscar

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment, David – it’s a joy to share the walk and gives me a great excuse to relive it again through the photographs and composing the post! 😀 Yep, I was bundled up in many layers whilst my son seems immune to the cold and has the same coat all year round! I think he is well fed up with my ‘nagging’ about scarves and gloves!

    1. Ahh…thank you, Jo – he is one amazing young guy and his love of walks makes me laugh as I recall how often as little he would so early on during a walk moan about his legs being soooo tired! Oh, I can empathise now! 😀 What a great phrase ‘dilly dawdling’ and I haven’t heard that for years and never seen it written – it’s just perfect!!

    1. Jacqui, I have to hold my hands up – it was far and too long for me! I was exhausted afterwards and once in town, I actually called for a pick-up but of course, my husband didn’t have the phone with him! So I trekked back, but happy I did – lovely sense of accomplishment and also my son and I talk so much on these walks I’d hate to miss out. Still, I’d do it again and as my son left this morning I did suggest I could come – he laughed and said, ‘But it almost killed you last time!’😀😃 So glad you like the song – this is one that’s on loop in my head at the moment and the old-style cinefilm has a special feel to it.

  12. What a great resource, and so close to your house! There’s nothing quite like a walk through the woods no matter what time of year (though when the mosquitoes are out it kinda sucks). Beautiful pictures! And your son enjoys this journey on a regular basis? I’m jealous 🙂 Thank you for sharing this wonderful treasure, Annika!

    1. Julie, it is a wonderful treasure and I’ve seen photos of the Pits before all the trees and it really was stark and brown! My son heads off for long treks nearly every day, often with a friend and during the winter with torches. At the speed he goes I’m ‘allowed’ to go with him now and then as I slow him down – just a little though!😀 Luckily no many mosquitos even in summer but what pesky little mites if they are around.

    1. It is a very special place and even whilst we were waiting to buy our house we used to come here often, lifting the pram over the entrance and walk around! Oh, so many wonderful memories and I do particularly remember the snowsuit, little children always look so cute in them but my son really was not happy in it – I realise now he was probably just too hot! Wishing you a lovely weekend,Jessica! Hugs 😀♥️

  13. I enjoyed the walk with you. Interspersed with historical backgrounds, I enjoyed your blog post. The crisp air of winter can be invigorating indeed. I am glad the land is better preserved now too. We live near forever green areas and wetlands where no further building can be undertaken. The river is not far on the other side of a line of trees. We live in the suburbs yet have wildlife visit from time to time: deer, fox, skunks, rabbits, etc. They are our wild neighbors. Your descriptions are so vivid to me. One day I’ll be able to say “I knew you when.” Enjoy the weekend! 🙂

    1. Mary Ann, thank you so much for this wonderful comment which has me smiling for so many reasons! 😀♥️ The last comment is so kind, who knows…I love your description of your green areas and wetlands – isn’t it the best being near civilisation of towns etc but also within a stones throw of untouched nature?! What a menagerie of local wildlife, although I’m not too sure I’d want skunks visiting! I was once nearly knocked over by a muntjac deer in this nature reserves and the grass plain on one of my first photos is a haven for rabbits and we always see them … reminds me of of Watership Down! Wishing you a lovely restful weekend too – filled with music! 😀

      1. Thanks, Annika for your insightful comment. I love being in nature but close to my creature comforts. I encountered a skunk one morning when I was walking the local high school track before 4 AM. Racing through my mind was what would I do if I was sprayed? Could I drive in the car home? Go to work? I paused a continued slowly allowing the skunk to pass me by. Whew. I dodged that bullet! I am off to sing for a funeral this morning as part of my music ministry. Enjoy your weekend.

    1. Debby, you’re not wrong there – this was the height of our winter!! 😀 Other years there have been a metre or so snow but that was so long ago and even my son reminisces about it! 😀 But just frosty enough to give that beautiful winter landscape – so glad you enjoyed the prose and photos!

  14. What a beautiful stroll and I mused right along with you, Annika. I wouldn’t be surprised if a troll peeked out of that light-dappled woods either. I love your flowing writing and reflections. A walk in nature has a way of doing that. 🙂

    1. Diana, there is nothing like a walk to aid the free flow of thoughts and this one was no exception. At times I’ll end up talking into my memo app as I’m worried I’ll forget a phrase or idea! Lovely to have you along, musing on the walk…and yeah, I love the idea of the troll peeking out but just too shy to come into the one to say ‘hello’!😀

  15. Such a beautifully reflective post, Annika. Lovely photos as well!
    I’m an avid trail runner, when the weather permits, and when it doesn’t, I still try to get outside in the morning, around noontime, and again in the evening no matter where I am. It’s always so nice to escape the artificial lights and sounds and just breathe outdoors!
    I’m glad we are connected and I hope you have a nice weekend. 🙂

    1. Lovely to connect and thank you for your interesting comment! My brother and his family are all keen runners and they have such amazing landscape in the north of England on the moors to enjoy their sport. Where do you run? Hills, fields, woods, road? Just being outdoors in nature is such a recuperative feeling, life-enhancing and I try to get out at least for a long walk once a day. Happy 🏃 running! Take care and great to meet here! 😀

      1. Hi Annika! I run on gravel trails in wooded metroparks with my dog. I get the benefits of a much softer surface and hills as well. Used to run on roads, but it’s so damaging to your joints. And when there’s snow on the ground, I run on a treadmill indoors. Hope you have a great Sunday! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Bette.😀♥️ I do enjoy posts such as this one, taking a virtual walk and musing along the way and I was happy to share this special place. So glad you enjoyed the song, the video has such a classic feel to it, I love its style and yes, I felt that too about memories being brought back to life!

  16. Anonymous

    What a wonderful piece of writing. I actually felt I was walking along with you and I could feel the cold crisp air and the leaves scrunching underfoot as I walked in quiet conemplation. Such walks when the weather is perfect (no matter what time of year) clear the mind, soothe the soul and make you aware of what is really important

    It was so real I’m now drinking a cup of tea to warm myself up!

    Mike

    1. Mike, wow, thank you so much and so happy you could actually sense the crisp air and hear the leaves crunching! Are your legs tired and aching too!??😀😃 It was a very contemplative walk interspersed with interesting conversation – just a perfect morning. Your comment captures the very essence of the walk which is wonderful!😀❤️ Of course, you deserve that cuppa tea!!

    1. Wow, thank you so much, Sailaja and so happy you liked it. 😀 It was such a special day and the only real sunny wintry one we’ve had so I wanted to share it here with everyone – I even remembered to load my camera battery the day before!

  17. delphini510

    Annika, I have so enjoyed this beautiful walk, so envigorating and mystical, almost spiritual.
    Your photos do support your tale beautifully ; The frozen leaves, the young man walking the mysterious path………shame on the troll. Hobbit wil do well though,:) . Didn’t they give you hot chocolate?
    I am also taken with the history of the Nature Reserve ” The Pit” , fun name. To think that not being good enough rescued the area and turned it into a recreational spot for all around.

    The song now…….wakes memories☺️
    Thank you
    Mirja

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Mirja and so happy you enjoyed this walk. It was mystical in such surreal ethereal light! 😀❤️ The young man striding ahead is my son as you probably guessed – now it’s my turn to try to catch up – doesn’t seem long ago when his little legs couldn’t keep up with me! Oh, not sure what hobbits drink – you’ve given me a good excuse to check out the book again!

      So glad you liked the touch of history thrown in – there was quite a big American airfield here during the war and after and I must say the cement on that is still strong and wearing well fifty years plus later!

      Wishing you a peaceful weekend and hopefully the chance for a spiritual restful walk amongst nature.😃

  18. Ahh…nothing like a winter’s walk in that crisp, cold air. Beautiful. Hi Annika, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to visit you. I’ve had WP problems as well as dealing with other behind blog ‘stuff’ but I wanted to let you know I’m still here, just. I’m only commenting here as leaving multiple comments on blogs when I catch up (which I do frequently) seems to cause my comments to go to spam and I am hoping this isn’t the case now. I was so very sorry to hear of your fall on the stairs, very glad you are just about recovered now. Believe it or nor, I had a fall just before Christmas, landed flat on my face after badly twisting my right ankle. Not nice is it? Thank goodness you didn’t fall down the stairs, awful. Your new Five Year Diary looks and sounds wonderful. What a story it will tell as the years go by. I loved your story, the tension and suspense, very well written. Good to see you up and blogging. Take care and see you soon ❤ xxx

    1. Sherri, lovely to see you and hope you are recovering well from your fall. Sprained ankles is a real pain – haha! Mine is nearly well although I seem to have some ongoing problems…oh, I did fall down the stairs, just not from the top luckily.

      This walk was the first long one since last year and it was bliss – not too cold like now and the light was magical with stunning views. One doesn’t need much on days like that!

      The diary writing is still going well and I thought if I can’t manage a couple of sentences I might as well give up on myself! So glad you liked the story too and the suspense building up within it – such good fun to write!

      Hope you are keeping well and the new year is bringing peace and harmony to you. Keep safe and well. Hugs 😃❤️

      1. Oh Annika, your fall sounds just awful, so glad you’re okay. Thank goodness you didn’t fall from the top. Despite it all, I’m so glad you were able to enjoy your first long walk of the year, the light is indeed so beautiful at this time of year on such days. Thank you, and likewise my friend…hugs right back ❤

  19. Thank you, Annika, for such a lovely walk in the woods. I think Theroux was there too. You didn’t see any Trolls but what about Hobbits?

    Living in Florida where the beach is in close proximity, I do miss the woods of North Carolina. Thanks for taking me there. I love the music… JC

    1. Oh, I’d love to have run into a Hobbit – then I would have asked to stop by for a well-earned rest and cup of tea and biscuits, hobbits are so hospitable after all!😀

      The woods are lovely and particularly so this time of year with the trees barren and the views stretch afar, during the height of summer it can become a bit claustrophobic. North Carolina sounds wonderful and I’ve seen pictures of the long empty beaches. Those and some warmth wouldn’t go amiss at the moment!

    1. Sometimes I just want to leave that veneer at the door! I wonder what the world would be like then? Would the pain be less or more?

      It was a wonderfully reflective walk, healthy for body and soul! I know, no troll…this time. I swear there have been times in the big forests in Sweden that I’ve spotted something – spooky but exciting! Have a lovely weekend, Bernadette and hope you have a chance to enjoy some contemplative walks too.😀

    1. Spring?? I think I’ve heard that word before…just seems such a LONG time ago! Lovely to have you along on the walk, Jill and now I wonder do your legs hurt as much as mine did after this walk/hike? My fitness levels really need to improve! Thanks for your warm comment and wishing you a relaxing weekend! 😀❤️

  20. Your chilly morning walk filled with memories and warm thoughts. A beautiful way to start a day. Well done and thank you for taking us along. I hope you enjoyed your hot chocolate and biscuit. I think I will go make myself a hot chocolate now. I loved the video and the song was spot on.

    1. Patricia, I hope you’re now enjoying your hot chocolate! 😀 We needed ours afterwards and always perfect when topped off with marshmallows. So glad you enjoyed the post, the walk was magical and I wanted to share some of that here; the song and video are one one of my favourites for the past couple of years.

    1. Thank you, Kamal. It was a beautifully stunning and peaceful walk and a delight to relive it through the photographs. Alas too cold and wet to sit and muse, that will come in the spring! Hope you have a chance to visit such a calm relaxing place.

        1. Oh, I could post so many photos of the nature from here, Yorkshire, Sweden, I just try to be careful and not bore people! I’m so happy they are enjoyed and treasured and it’s always a wonder to connect with others so far away. Glad a bit of the winter outdoors could greet your day (evening?).

  21. PeterR

    Annika, have you ever thought of a career writing for a travel company? You manage to make a simple walk such an interesting, almost spiritual, journey.

    1. Thank you, Peter! 😀 Oh, I would have loved to work for a travel company, not too many survive in this internet world. After a couple of miles walk I go into a new ‘zone’ – yes, quite a spiritual thoughtful reflective one.

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