Travels with MaryE

Most things I love best are about good light and good timing. That's where the adventures start. Don't be in no hurry here. Here you'll find a little bit about bluegrass music, fox hunting, life on the road, time on the mountain, and a whole lot about other things, too.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Fox, The Frost and the Winter Sun

Today was another sub-zero (that's Celsius, not Fahrenheit, but still cold enough) day and somewhere around 2 pm I got out my cameras and jumped in the 4WD and headed out to explore some of the hills around here. A 360 degree survey told me that I should head over toward the Radnor Forest and visit some of the hills there.

While the rime wasn't as spectacular as I've seen it, it was still pretty nice. This time of year in this part of the world by 2:30 it's already heading toward darkness and by 4:00 you might as well say it IS dark ('course at the end of June it never does get totally dark). While this premature darkness can make it difficult to accomplish things here in the wintertime, as a photographer I enjoy being so far north because the sun never does get very high in the sky and the light in the late afternoons (which is like 3 pm!) is spectacular (when it isn't raining).

So I just put on a few layers of clothing, got out there on some of those hills and enjoyed the sight of the rime and frost on the evergreens, the grasses, the tree stumps, the fences and whatever else was unfortunate enough to be up there in that cold wind. On the way down the lane where I live I spied a sparrow hawk making mincemeat of some poor little bird. Ugh. In Wales birds of prey are protected but songbirds aren't. Go figure.

I didn't encounter another person in an hour and a half on the hills, but I did see something spectacular that took my breath away. As I drove up through the forestry I kept stopping every 50 yards or so and looked in all directions to see where the light was hitting, what might make an interesting photograph, and so forth. The light changes continually, especially as the sun is dropping as it was this afternoon. The rays were catching the rime and making it gleam and glow. The wind was flinging rime off the pine boughs onto the frozen dirt track. Up on Wimble sheep were grazing on what little grass they could find amidst the frost. They are determined creatures. I can imagine they had some frozen tongues!

So I'd already stopped about 20 times on my way to the top. I'd gotten out and walked a few times and strolled in the forestry a bit (it was especially frosty in there). When I was nearly to the top I paused in a lovely sunny spot (but with the wind whipping and the exposure it must have been minus ten degrees) and gazed up toward Wimble. The sun was fully hitting that high spot and I noticed a sheep fence there maybe 100 yards from where I stood on the track. Suddenly a gorgeous red fox jumped up from behind a tump and eased under the fence. It then soared over a frozen gorse bush, disappeared from sight, soared over another, all the while coming toward me. I got all excited (this time I didn't have my camera in my hands, darn, it was in the truck) and reached in the truck for my camera. I shouldn't have done that for the beautiful fox disappeared. Perhaps he had a den just there where I last saw him, but more likely he'd seen me there and slipped around out of sight somewhere.

It was just such an exhilarating sight....the way the sun caught his rich red coat, all fluffed up and fat. He was a beauty. Though I can't say I got any wonderful photos today (not for lack of trying!) it was all worthwhile just to see that fox in his element leaping through the frost and sun, doing whatever foxes do when folks ain't around.

I'm sure glad I went up that hill today.