We don’t have direct sunlight in winter, but on clear days we can see it on the hill tops east and west of the valley, enticing us to climb them. In February the sun is just high enough to graze the larches that fringe the long south ridge but it will be another month before it spills into the caravan to pour light in the blue glass jug.

CoppicingWe coppiced the ditch hedge to let in more light, and the woody tangle by the stream. Wild garlic is just up and the mud down there is always wet and marshy deep. There is moss on the rocks and even the youngest whippy hazel rods are thick and dripping in it, like sloths.

There’s blackthorn to burn but I make neat piles of the hazel, dividing it into stakes and weavers and kindling brash. The activity has shaken frosty hips to the ground from the wild thicket rose and agitated the robins. The light is grainy dusk when I’m done, but looking up to the valley head I see the hill glowing wildly, daubed in fiery orange.

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