Neckelchester School and Raffsburgh College were closed again today because of the snow, so the whole family were at home. Rising very early this morning, I looked out of the window of Necky Knoll House. The light outside looked luminescent and mysterious.
"A walk in the snow," said Maureen. Her eyes shone as she turned towards me. "To the Gardens!"
We tramped across fields, through the shadowy Forest and beyond. All the while the light grew stronger and the shimmering mist dispersed.
"I want to see the Swans!" whispered Littl' Nicky, looking up at the sky.
Our swans, Cygnus camelopardalis, are unusual birds. Large and graceful, their flight across the winter sky is awe inspiring. Like mythical creatures from distant constellations, silent and majestic, their huge wings move slowly as they head for their secret nesting grounds.
However, they have a mischievous streak.
Much bigger than Littl' Nicky, strong yet friendly, the birds have a penchant for heavy metal objects, which they pilfer prodigiously. Only last week we caught one making off with Necky Becky's new sledge! As she rushed out of the house it flew off, making loud tooting noises.
But in the Gardens, Cygnus camelopardalis appear silent, serene and a little numinous.
As we came out from the trees by the lake, the rushes parted and a swan glided into view. Graceful, elegant, yet with a quizzical almost cheeky look on its face. Noiselessly it passed us and grew smaller and smaller as it made its way across the water.
We sighed and continued on our walk in a kind of rapturous silence.
Yet ... strange though it may seem, I'm sure that as it passed by, Cygnus camelopardalis winked at us!