How things are stripped down in winter. The exuberant green foliage of trees and bushes is totally absent. Few birds sing. All the details of houses and gardens are swathed in snow, flattened out, smoothed, obscured so that only streamlined shapes are visible. My hearing is affected because sounds are muffled by the snow and by my big hood, lined with soft velvet and trimmed around the face with black fur so that I look out into the white world through a fine fringe. Even on sunny days the sun is low and rather than enhancing my sight, it is dazzling. The world is reduced to white, light, straight lines. Where the great river widens the waves have disappeared. The water has frozen. I suppose one could walk out onto the snow that has fallen over the thick ice but no one braves the windswept open space. Where would one walk to? What would be the goal? On such days I often think about the pioneers, the brave or desperate few who took their chances. How they must have clung to the little comforts they had. Faith, hope, religion arrayed against nature. Indifferent nature must have seemed powerful against ideas, theories, dreams. How I admire them and thank them, send good thoughts to their memory. On the bitter afternoon I can stand beside the great expanse of water and take a photograph or two and retreat to my car, drive home and drink “a nice cup of tea”.