Winter sweeps in with a blizzard of snow, bleaching from the sky in large flakes. It has turned colder quickly, but winter is still ambiguous. It isn’t long before the sun is blazing, melting most of the snow dust away. The next morning, I walk in the country park. Up here, paths still crunch with a thin layer of day-old snow. The pond is frozen. Mallards congregate at the liquid edge but waddle over the ice when a man offers bread. The blush of the sunrise is trapped in the ice.
Corvids perch high in the trees, dark silhouettes against a sky striped pink and blue. I crunch to the sundial, where an orange sunrise gilds the gnomon. A magpie perches at its peak but flies off at my approach. Silver birch trunks glint around the park. A charm of goldfinches flutters by. Bird song is muted but for the chuckle of a magpie, perhaps the same one that has just flown away. Winter always seems to be the season of corvids and it is as though the other creatures are sensibly tucked away while they sit and survey their fiefdom.
Winter remains on the morning of the lunar eclipse, though now the landscape is rimed with the glitter of frost, not snow. On the last eclipse a thunderstorm rode in and obscured the sky. After tonight, there won’t be another for two years. But as I wake at 4am, the night is crisp and clear. The moon is there, high in the west. It will be totality in half an hour or so. For the moment, the full moon has shrunk to a crescent. As the earth’s shadow covers it, the crescent becomes a sphere again but it is no longer the brightest thing in the sky. A rosy hue creeps over its base while its top is luminous.
Soon, the red glow appears. It is a soft red, through which the darkened craters are still visible. For an hour the moon is garnet, rather than diamond. Half way through, a blackbird begins to sing, serenading the blood moon with his mournful song. As it comes to an end, the blackbird pauses his singing. The top of the moon becomes brighter and brighter still, as though it is wearing a trilby of light. It is beginning to sink now, moving northwards. The trilby becomes a crescent and the earth’s shadow begins to retreat, slowly uncovering the full moon once more. The blackbird is singing again and the human world is waking. A plane flies over, a Metro rumbles past, I hear the intermittent sound of cars. For me, it is time to go back to bed, and the moon, having given its display, will soon slumber too.