It continues to be frosty and cold. Last night’s temperature dropped to -7, but by 9:30 AM, when we set off for the butcher’s in Horsley, it was -3 C. Our beautiful garden is bleak with stiff frost. The fields are white, and the tops of hedges and branches. Snow is beautiful and soft. You know it is cold, but it conjures wood smoke and chimneys, sledding, skiing, snowmen. You can enjoy it, have fun in it, and come in to a cozy fire. Ice storms leave behind dramatic, glittering icicles and twigs sheathed in glass. But frost is stiff, gray, silently cold. Nothing is going on beneath it. It is a suspension of life, an endless waiting in purgatory, while freezing fog hangs above the ground, unable to land and unable to part. At least, that’s how it seems to me, driving through the fields. There are sheep in the pale fields, and cows. They are the same color as the fields, and I wonder if they are frosted, too, or if their feet are cold.
At Conisbee’s, the butcher, cars are parked in the small lot across the way. Some have been there all night, apparently, as they are completely iced and frosted, candy cars waiting to be hung on a huge tree.
Turkeys, partridges, ducks, hang in the window. We’ve ordered our goose the day before, so we don’ t have to wait until it is "dressed". Strange thing to say, when in fact it means its head and feet are cut off and its insides pulled from its belly. The goose is smallish, but greasy with the fat it will render, which I will save for roasting vegetables. I buy two oxtails so I can make some rich soup, and freeze some, as well as a "gammon", which is like ham but cured differently. Four or five butchers serve a stream of customers, and are cheerful, smiling, and helpful.
I feel slightly pathetic,though, since all this feasting will be more or less just the two of us. Everyone is busy with their families, either away or having them in. We thought about going off somewhere for a day or two, but neither of us has actually organized anything, so here we are, getting ready to cook up a feast, wishing our children were here, but understanding the reasons they can’t be. We’ll have a post Christmas celebration with Bernard’s family (minus the Uruguayan contingent) and will have dinner with friends on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas). We could go to Newbury with Bernard’s sister, but will wait to see her and her family when they all can be there.
So we do have choices. We have made the choice to spend this Christmas Eve in the village, where we will sing carols outside the church on the square. The pub will be serving mulled wine. It will be cold but not snowy, as a warming trend is predicted, and we will enjoy it.
- The Season
- LONDON DECEMBER 22