Saturday, 3 January 2009
Walking the dogs in the frost
Towards dusk I put on my thick tweed jacket, neck warmer and gloves and strolled southwards down the dirt road then wound east up the lower slopes of Mealle Beage until I came to the forest road that returned west below the forestry's serried lines of trees running dark and deep beyond my sight. The terriers romped every which way but obedient to my call never wandered far from sight. The sun reddened a contrail streaming across the southern sky. After a mile and a half on slightly slippery gravel I turned west scrambling across a rutted meadow of frozen rushes two years cleared of trees, between the woods and frozen lake, treading gingerly over patches of ice, until I came to the road south again, and walked homeward, watching for cars, heeling the dogs when they approached, strolling towards Inverarnie and the lane up to Brin Croft where tea and crumpets were ready, after I'd towelled the dogs. Later we went for supper with friends across the strath, finishing by candlelight when the power cut out from Inverness to south of Tomatin. Outside the ground sparkled. No city loom dimmed the stars. Once home, leading my mother gently over the icy hearth by the greeting dogs, we were preparing the house to keep its warmth through a night below freezing, when lights and heating came on again and we turned off our gas lamps and blew out the candles.