I scuttled outside in the cold, briefly, on Friday to record a few images of our frosty world.
Pale winter sunlight threw shadows across the walk and steps that lead from the side porch down the slope to the lane.
Purple sage and winter-grey stems of lavender sprawl in the leaf littered herb bed. The invasive rugosas thrust out stiff and thorny branches.
In the weed-plagued strips that I am determined to see as perennial borders, thyme and dianthus still hold subdued green color.
Tattered seed heads and winter-seared leaves of clematis 'Candida' arch over the trellis and rattle against the board fence.
With chilled fingers clutching the camera, I retreated quickly to the warmth of the farmhouse.
The thermometer outside one of the north kitchen windows registered 12 degrees F a few minutes after 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, heralding our January thaw.
By noon we had gained 30 degrees of warmth! At 3 I layered myself in sweaters, a zip-front 'hoodie' and my [fake] fur-lined boots.
A venture outside at 42 F seemed almost balmy after the long days and nights of biting cold.
The sun was disappearing behind pale clouds, a slight wind riffled through the long-dead stalks of goldenrod and boneset still standing behind the retaining wall.
I brought out more kibble for the outside cats, fluffed the fleece blankets which line the various heavy boxes which provide them with snug beds.
I trudged to the compost heap, ventured beyond into the woods, feeling the slight shifting of warming soil beneath the heavy cover of oak leaves.
Willis-the-cat, ever companionable, picked his way daintily behind me, alert to the possibility of encounter with bird or beast.
I invented a few small chores, changing litter boxes, carrying in a small armload of wood although Jim had the sturdy cart already filled for the night.
I pursued Jim's cat, Bobby Mac across the bit of pasture that borders the lane. Reaching for him as he rolled in dry grass, my fingers brushed through his long black and white fur as he bounded away, cleared the gravelly bank of the frozen stream and perched with feline nonchalance just out of reach on a fallen branch. Determined to have him indoors before dark, I coaxed and cajoled, trailed him as he scampered up the slope, past the garden, behind the workshop.
I realized that even with the approach of evening it was not unpleasant to be outside. As long as I kept moving I wasn't chilled!
Even during a stretch of cold weather such as we have been experiencing frost doesn't go deep in the ground. All around me, subtle but undeniable, was the freshening scent of cool soil, milder air.
Nothing so positive yet as the awakening of green and growing things, but rather a promise, a reassurance of slowly lengthening days, the age old march of seasons in their familiar course.