This morning there is no frost.
A bent woman in a brown coat and broad-brimmed hat walks a path from her door to the edge of the woods and gathers sticks, brittle with the cold, from a tangled pile she made last autumn. These fires will be her last of the winter. She no longer feels the rising pulse of spring but only hopes that the longer light and time out of doors will rid her of these haunting dreams.
A hawk soars above in the crystal-blue sky and its silent shadow drifts along the side of the steep ravine and up the sides of the still-naked tree trunks. In the pools on the hilltop green slime bearing a thousand eggs mocks the death winter demanded – a death which will itself surely die.
And there is no ticking clock, only the scattered tufts of wild onions, now green, the dogged and audacious signs of new life.