There are two times of day when walking outside feels extra special, when the world seems to belong to you and you alone. Dusk and dawn, the hours of half-light as the sun sets and the day cools, and as the sun rises, fingers through the mist, softly melting the frost.
In these quiet times when people are fewer, birdsong filters through the cool air; blackbird from the tree tops, wren from the bushes by the gateway.
At dusk there is a sense of settling down, of pausing for reflection on the day. The air is stiller; thoughts quieter. Long shadows stretch across the field from the cattle that huff and sigh around their water trough, and a crowd of jackdaws chatter overhead on their way to roost. There is a temptation to check over your shoulder, half-expecting to catch a glimpse of early foraging fox trotting along the track. In the houses behind, its tea-time, before the children are bathed and pyjamas found, bedtime stories told and the last walk for the dog. Perhaps some-one pauses at a window before the curtains are drawn, to see the colours smudged across distant clouds and hear the drifts of thrushes song.
It is light and yet the sun has not quite climbed into the sky above the hills. Fog swirls between hedgerow trees and tractor wheel rut puddles are thinly filmed with ice that traps straggling blades of grass in its edges. A frost has formed on the metal bars of the gate, and neatly trimmed hedgerow tops. Hidden in the mist a roe deer grazes at the field edge and roosting pigeon flocks begin to fidget in the tree tops. The frost is melting, softly dripping, and the strengthening sun is fading the fog. A tractor clatters noisily along the lane and sheep can be heard bleating in a distant field. There is a shuffeling in the bushes, and house sparrows start cheeping. Soon church-bells will ring and children will fidget in school assemblies, and perhaps, later in the day, the first spring butterfly will flutter along the hedgerow, yellow as the sun.