When you look out of the window and all you see is bright blue and a sun that is high in the sky, you can almost convince yourself that it’s warm outside. Then you look down to the ground and you still see the frozen wasteland that is built by Mother Nature after a period of unusual warmth followed by a flash freeze. A landscape of bizarre ice sculptures that give one the impression the artist got bored half way through and simply walked away to leave his work unfinished.
This is the time of year where winter is starting to feel really long. Every day you get up and it’s still unbearably cold outside, and the ice and snow carpets the ground. It has been almost three months since I’ve ridden outside (I know I’ve moaned about this already on here) but I can’t help but look through the window and ache to be out on the road again. Still, it’s not possible right now, so I decided to make the most of the day and the beauty that is literally right outside my front door and take Alfie for a walk down to the lake. It was on the way down to said lake that I met Cardinal Bird. There he was, a flash of bright red against the awesomely pale blue backdrop that was the cold winter sky. How a creature so small was not freezing sitting atop the bare tree is beyond my comprehension. I was wrapped in multiple layers plus a wool hat and thick leather gloves, and still I could feel the icy wind penetrate my armour and bite my skin. Anyway, there he was, keenly looking out across the neighbourhood and calling out to his parishioners every now and then. His calls were falling on deaf ears. He was the only one attending mass this morning.
The lake is beautiful at any time of year, but it is particularly dramatic when it is frozen. The vast expanse of ice stretches out in front of you and disappears into the horizon. Where it ends or whether or not it ever becomes water again I do not know. Nor was I about to venture out that far to find out, but I did determine that the ice was thick enough to take both myself and Alfie a short distance and so I stepped hesitantly onto the frozen water. I was secure in the knowledge that should the ice give way I would probably only sink up to my knees, such is the shallow entry into the lake. You can walk at least one hundred yards out in the summer and still be wading no higher than your waist, but I was nonetheless keenly listening out for the tell tale crack of ice as it strains under stress before suddenly giving way. No crack was forthcoming.
A lake is very open. You don’t fully appreciate that fact until you’re out on it, be it in the summer being pushed along by a welcome breeze, or perhaps, as in my case, it is an alarmingly cold February morning and the howling gale (this is what it felt like) is making the usually bearable -10c feel like an Arctic -50c. Whatever your reality, let me confirm to you that it was cruelly evident that my attire was not going to prevent frostbite for much longer. This was further confirmed by the fact that even Alfie, wrapped from tip to tail in the most delightful fur coat you could ever wish for, was starting to look uncomfortable. It was time to head home, but not before taking a moment to be truly grateful for everything that I have.