'Crepuscular' - what a fantastic word to roll around one's tongue at the end of a gloomy December afternoon. My dictionary confirms that it means 'Resembling or relating to twilight'. I find it hard to shake off the feeling that it might be a good description for a pock-marked cartoon planet. Whatever. I am having midwinter crepuscular thoughts.
It's 4.20pm. Twilight and the light is fading fast; in fact the landscape is imbued with an eerie, curious and sulphurous glow. The land is sodden under my boots, our sticky clay oozes water. It's hard to love this time of year.
Across the field, in the dark fastness of Badnage wood, I can hear the panicked calls of pheasants as they launch themselves up into the swaying conifers and out of the reach of foxy jaws.
My hens - I have come to shut them into their huts for the night - have already taken themselves indoors. They are making what I take to be argumentative hen-talk - clucks and squawks - as they jostle for pole position on the perch. I have a stern word or two with the cockerels. They have been crowing at 5.00 in the morning for heaven's sake - a time when birds should surely have their heads under their wings. Dawn's earliest light is then still at least 2 hours hence.
Yesterday of course was the shortest day of the year - the day when the sun reached its lowest point in the sky, the Winter Solstice. The thought of the days now getting longer is a cheering one - although I suspect we'll get to February before we notice the difference.With hens shut in I trudge back up to the house. It's bedecked for Christmas with greenery and sparkling baubles. Our pretty tree's fairy lights are reflected into infinity by the glass of the garden room and the stove is set, ready to put a match to - soon orange tongues of flame will lick the darkness.
What bliss, the magic of fire in winter's deepest days - light and warmth. I shall sit for a while and watch the night descend before putting on my party frock to attend some latter day Saturnalian revels - the first of many Christmas parties. Mulled wine here we come....