Cold ‘beauty of the morning’
It is cold here. Minus 6 degrees earlier this morning, and 14 degrees in the kitchen where I am writing this. The wood-burning stove is doing a grand job. Of stone walls, there is a debate as to their insulative value. With much thinner walls I am sure we’d feel the cold even more, and more of the heat would be wasted as it escaped the old farmhouse.
What is certain is that in the summer, the walls keep the inside of the rooms cool compared to strong heat outside. That is no great comfort now; but with sufficient clothes enough heat is holding up from the fire.
Today a light freezing fog envelopes the valley below us. The sky is stern outside. The light a couple of days ago – morning and evening as the sun came up, and later went down – was so beautiful. After the sunrise then I kept thinking of Wordsworth’s sonnet :
Earth has not any thing to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare…
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;…
Yes, I know, that is written of standing on Westminster Bridge (in the middle of London) in 1802; and I have left out the bit about ‘Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie’ etc. Without that and the word ‘City’ (in line 4) – for which substitute ‘country’ – these lines work for what I see as the sun comes up here on a clear winter’s day.
Anyway, I mustn’t complain of the cold. I bought this barn and farmhouse twenty-five years ago, not thinking – I accept – of the cold factor in winter; still less thinking I would ever come to live here. It is a beautiful place to live; and so different from the city houses and flats – Bristol and Paris – that I have lived in. And soon there will be the stirrings of spring again here in Burgundy. So no more of weather me, please; unless of the extremes of this time of year: snow or spring sunshine.