Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I woke early this morning, in order to go to the village and do all my last-minute errands. I had a plan, and a list. It was quite stern and meticulously ordered.
Then I went outside. The sky was dark blue, and the moon, almost full, was still up in the west. Organisation and plans went out of my head, and I just stared like a dolt at all the beauty. Quite silently, a roe deer walked past, steady but determined, as if he had an appointment to keep. Down by the burn, I saw him again, with the rest of his family: an elegant mama, and four brothers and sisters. I have not seen the deer for ages. It felt like a present.
In the village, the butcher's shop was so full I could barely get in the door. All the butchers were wearing special Christmas hats, and there were huge signs everywhere saying NO MORE TURKEYS. The shop was entirely peopled with men, collecting their birds. I had a vision of the incredibly organised women at home, who had risen with the dawn, consulted their own lists, and despatched their gentlemen to get in the food. Either that, or the ladies of the village had too much sherry last night and could not get out of bed this morning.
I went to say happy Christmas to the postmistress and the always smiling newsagent (also wearing special yuletide hat), bought my last two presents for the great niece and great nephew, got a little white hyacinth in a pot as a treat for my mother, and went home. Everything on the list had a thrilling tick next to it.
Just as I was getting in the final shopping, I saw smoke. I thought for a moment that something was on fire. Then I realised it was not smoke at all, but a low cloud, moving fast along the ground. All around, everything was quite clear. It was an extraordinary sight, as if one rogue cloud had broken free of the pack, and was being pushed by an unseen hand along the base of the hill.
I suppose really it was just a bit of fog. But it looked like a magic cloud to me.
I hope you all have a lovely, peaceful Christmas Eve.
Here are today's pictures -
First glimpse of the hill, on a perfect clear morning, with the thermometer hovering at minus ten:
The moon, still up at 8am:
The village, in all its Christmassy pomp:
My magic cloud:
And above it, the hill, in utter clarity:
PS. May I say thank you for all your enchanting comments of the last couple of days. I have not replied to them all, because I have been a little frantic with all the arrangements, but they have been particularly touching. The internet can be a cross and alarming place, but you, dear readers, make this little corner of it entirely charming, and I do not take that for granted for a single moment.