Buzz Buzz Buzz.
Up before dawn. Uncooperative limbs and scratchy, sleep filled eyes.
Jumper on backwards, the left arm caught inside out.
The kettle rattles as it comes to boil, then clicks off with a full stop.
Tea. Hot. Milk and one sugar.
Out into the gelid inkiness with the dog, walking down a pitch black tarmac streak under a sky the colour of shallow ice and frozen grass.
Vapour trails and clouds hang, motionless dark brush strokes across a jade-white canvas. The world in negative.
The faint light of dawn blending in from the East brings a hint of salmon flesh to the horizon.
Two hares stand on their back legs and watch from the middle of a young rape seed crop, alert but not concerned.
Life and colour seeps slowly across the landscape and more details emerge from the darkness.
The frost tipped hawthorn hedge stands barbed, bristling, prickly. A jet black shadow with an icing sugar dusted crown.
Pheasants erupt in alarm from roosts, disturbing sleeping pigeons who clatter out of the trees. Downy feathers fall like snow to the rime crusted tarmac.
The smear of frozen topsoil lies congealed along the edge of the lane, washed out by yesterdays rain. Fields gone from bone dry to a boggy waterlogged mess, to frozen solid inside two days.
Shit or dust to use the technical farming term.
Shit or dust.