More snow overnight and some consolidation of the lying snow by the wind made conditions look good for the first ski tour of the year, a short venture into the woods and fields round home. December 7 is very late to start skiing. Most years I expect to ski in October. But the season has started and I am pleased. The snow was good in the open fields, packed down by the wind, and I could glide quite well. In the forest the snow was softer, deeper and stickier and skiing was hard work and slow. But still fun and easier than walking would have been.
The trees were heavy with snow, their branches touching the ground in places. Here they were surrounded by rabbit tracks as the animals came out to gnaw on the twigs and bark. A few rabbits streaked across the snow at my approach, sending up little puffs of snow. A cock pheasant shot into the air squawking loudly from almost under my skis. Nothing else stirred on this cold, windswept day.
The sky above was clear but in the west and north heavy, dark clouds hid the hills. At dusk – 3.30pm at this time of year – there were some faint pink touches on the streaks of cloud in the eastern sky but these soon faded as the sun was overwhelmed by the thick north-western darkness. An almost full moon shone above the land as I made my way home.