At the stables · Nature and seasons

Winter’s Charm ❄️

At this time of year, I look forward so much to the arrival of spring. I smile at every new bud on the tree, every snowdrop in the ground, and we watch happily every night in our office as 5 o’clock creeps closer with blue still in the sky, counting down to the time when we drive home without headlights on and spend energised evenings in the fading light. I love the idea of being rid of the mud at the field gate, wandering out to check the horse with pumps on across fresh grass, the smell of fly spray filling the air again; and can’t wait to wake to daylight every morning, out to the garden for coffee, feeling like a whole day’s living’s been done before work even begins. 

And yet sometimes, like this weekend, in the midst of the usual February countdown to spring and summer, the romance of winter just catches hold of me again, and I remember why I love it so much and why I count down so keenly to it too when the last days of summer come. ❤❄️

Last night, walking out to a further away field than I usually have cause to go to on our farm, bringing in a friend’s horse for the night, I unlocked the icy padlock on the far-away gate and walked along the grass strip above the fields’ edges, the horses all gathered in clusters around newly-filled ring feeders. The sweet wintry smell of the fresh bales of haylage filled the frosty air, the sky that deep midnight blue of just-before-darkness, the colour always richest just before it turns to black – stars already dotting it and the moon casting light as wellies and hooves picked their way back to the bright lights of the barn.

By this morning, the temperature had risen enough for the rain to return so it was swooshing windscreen wipers and rain bouncing off the car roof as I drove into the farm again. Leading the horses out, frozen fingers wrapped round lead ropes – only warming up when gratefully tucked into Charmer’s cosy turnout rug, where he’s like a little insulation heater in spite of the weather, or wrapped round travel mugs of coffee chatting to friends in the barn doorway – while the ponies began to stamp their feet impatiently, making us laugh.

Their battle finally won and the meander to the field done, find myself standing at the gate in my usual weekend morning routine, Charmer on one side and me the other but both still standing together for the brief few moments before our days begin. Sooner or later he will inevitably spot something more interesting further down the field – where the boys are tussling with each other and the prettiest mare shaking her head as she trots along the fence – but for the moment it’s lovely to have a lull in the morning’s busyness; and it is so easy to be thankful, in spite of looking forward to a new season, for these short cold days and the cosiness they help us find. X

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