It’s impossible to imagine dragonflies dancing over the water here as I look through icy reeds to a frozen Great Pond. But in July and August the air will throng with damsels and dragons hunting on the wing – for food and mates.
A snow-laden dragonfly sculpture on the pond margins reminds me that summer belongs here too.
The charcoal grey branches of an oak tree outlined in snow look more like a woodcut artwork than a living tree. Snow plays strange tricks with perception.
Snow has turned the jumbled shapes, textures and colours of a winter meadow into a stark monochrome landscape. The Common is all simplicity now: bare architecture of trees, clean white slopes. We followed the deep slots left by the hooves of roe deer, trusting them to pick a safe route through the drifts, forgetting their light-footedness and ability to leap yawning ditches.I paused by a scrub island where adders bask in early spring, warming their bodies after a long winter sleep. Moss and bushes hide their hibernaculum underground. They must be coiled around one another now, among the roots of dormant vegetation, deep in suspended animation.
And finally we went to pay homage to a favourite veteran oak and see how it was faring in the whiteout. We found it full of character as ever. Anyone who can walk past without stopping to admire it has lost the sense of nature’s grandeur.
This beautiful Common - all mine to enjoy!