The silent energies of winter held the landscape in frozen form. Not even the gentlest wind stirred the hedgerows as I walked home across the fields and a stillness spread to the near by lanes and cloudless sky. Beyond the skeletal forms of the bare trees I could see the fading dusty yellow of the January sunset through a distant haze. I paused for a moment to take my place in the scene, balancing on the frozen tractor rutted ground. My mind travelled back to the days before the hard frost and I remembered watching the field voles foraging for nesting materials to make for warmer slumbers. Again my mind travelled and settled on this time within the last solar year, I remembered the ice and deep freeze. How the biting cold had frozen the water supply to my hovel on four occasions as the frost traveled deeply into the earth and turned the country lanes into a skating rink.
I pondered the moment and returned to the present as a single form fluttered above the landscape. The silhouette of a kestrel hovered over the hedgerow before me looking for the voles, his shuddering wings holding him still within the sky while the landscape fell beneath the sharpest gaze. The fields suited the little falcons and I have watched them thrive here. Hundreds of years ago the woodlands would have dominated and the hawk would have ruled the spaces between the trees where the falcon would have been unable to turn. I cast my eyes to the distant lights of the village and wondered how long the land will remain in this form. With oil and resources would come the expansion of settlements. As they diminish the sprawl of humans will become less of a threat as true sustainability and the need for food will be a forced issue.
As the light faded, my breath clouded the air before me and the kestrel moved on to new grounds I decided to head home. I moved from the field to the narrow lanes with the lights from the hovel growing steadily closer. If I could have looked into the future I would have seen a new scar appear on a familiar roadside tree. Within a few nights a van driver would become ill at the wheel of his vehicle and leave the road to smash into the tree within the ditch. That night a lady from the village and I would be the first to stop and help him and call the emergency services.
Time can seem to move slowly out here but life can change in an instant.