The first frost

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5 – 8 November 2014

Slowly but surely the warmth is ebbing out of the world, well my world anyway. I guess if you live on the other side of the globe it is slowly warming up as spring creeps ever nearer. Wednesday morning was colder than I’d expected and I walked, gloveless, to work with my hands firmly in my pockets. There were no photographs unless you count one hardy flower on the way to work and a very unsuccessful attempt to capture a beautiful full moon as I left the office for my journey home.

The moon eludes the iPhone camera
The moon eludes the iPhone camera

The gloves were firmly on my hands on Thursday morning, and I had my hat, scarf and padded coat too. Even before I opened the door I knew it was going to be cold but, when I stepped onto the decking, I almost went up on my bum. The first frost had arrived. It suddenly occurred to me that I’d left my little pot of ginger out in the garden so, at great personal risk, I slid along the deck to get it. Fingers crossed it survives in the kitchen.

Even with all my precautionary extra clothes my fingers and face stung as I walked to work. In hindsight choosing to take the boardwalk route wasn’t the best plan. The grass in the desolate park was white with frost along with the roofs of the houses on Summer Street. Rich golden light bathed everything making even this rather run down park look beautiful.

The desolate park painted gold
The desolate park painted gold

The river was breathtaking. The camera came out and the gloves came off despite the frost nipping at my fingers. Sometimes you have to suffer to capture the moment. Even the most mundane of things takes on a beauty under the low autumn sun at seven o’clock in the morning. Seed heads of wild grass at the river’s edge could have been cast in precious metal and Suki II, moored in the bay positively glowed.

The Itchen at its best
The Itchen at its best

Turning back towards the Big Bridge the rising sun painted the water in tones to fit the season. Even the tattered, seaweed filled wreck of the hippie ship looked good enough to tempt an artist to set up an easel. I could have stayed there for hours snapping away, although, of course, the transient dawn light would be gone and the world would be back to its mundane self soon enough.

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The boardwalk almost proved to be my undoing. The thick frost had turned it into a treacherous obstacle. Dolly steps were the only way to cross, painfully slowly, with my hand ready to grip the rail at the first sign of slipping. I only have so many pairs of trousers after all. Close to the half way mark I met another pilgrim carefully picking her way in the opposite direction. She had a small pink camera in her hand and was stopping occasionally to take pictures across the bay.
“Beautiful isn’t it?” I said as we carefully moved round each other.
“It is,” she smiled.

A treacherous walk
A treacherous walk

Back on firm ground where the cover of trees protected the path from frost my phone came back out of my pocket and I stooped for a picture of frosty nettles, each hair transformed into a miniature icicle. A single cow parsley flower stood sentinel on the corner, made beautiful by the rising sun.

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After the beauty of the walk it was a horrible day in the office. Traffic mayhem because the council in a certain city, that shall remain nameless but I’m sure you can guess, have decided to dig up half the major roads and a few minor ones. A lot of impatient and angry people called to complain. Many swore, called us liars and worse. There were a lot of moments when I wondered what an earth I was doing there being abused. No one should have to put up with that when they’re trying to help.

There was no frost on Friday. Instead there was rain. Rather than walk along the busy road I took a detour past the railway station and along the river, a longer route but with less chance of being splashed by cars driving through puddles. Let’s face it, I wasn’t exactly keen to get to the office. It also gave me a chance to peek through the trees and fences over the little moorings to get a different perspective on Cobden Bridge.

The railway station
The railway station

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A different perspective on Cobden Bridge
A different perspective on Cobden Bridge

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The day was a carbon copy of Thursday in terms of calls, abuse and workload. Then, in the early evening I had a call that sounded very much like a prank. In fact there were a few moments where I thought I might be a victim of one of those joke radio shows. It started innocently enough.
“I know you allow dogs on your buses but do you allow cats and can I buy a season ticket for my pussy?”
“We don’t charge for dogs,” I said, “and lots of people take their cats on the bus to go to the vets and such like. As long as your cat basket isn’t so large it would cause an obstruction there shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Would I need a cat basket?” She said, sounding quite surprised.
“Obviously you would need a container of some kind I should think.” I said, wondering what she would put her cat in if it wasn’t a cat basket. Maybe she had some kind of a lead? “How do you usually carry her?”
“Oh I don’t carry my pussy,” the lady said, “my pussy follows me everywhere.”
“I’m afraid it wouldn’t be possible to have a loose cat roaming about the bus.” I said, trying really hard not to laugh. “There would be no way of making sure it stayed in one place and it could disturb other passengers.”
“She can be quite a vicious pussy at times,” the lady said. “Oh, dear, it seems like I won’t be able to take my pussy on the bus after all.”
Was she for real?

At six o’clock on Saturday morning I was stepping out into the rain again for the last working day of the week. The sky was just beginning to lighten behind thick black cloud and the empty streets were still dark. Somewhere behind them the sun was trying to come up but I was pretty sure there would be no beautiful red and orange skies this week.

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By the time I reached the Millennium Flats it was almost light and the sharp wind blowing across the river created ripple patterns. There were no swans. All in all it was a disappointing walk and I arrived at the office wet and cold.

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Once I’d made my coffee I settled down to take calls and work on the outstanding social media questions. A man called to ask about buses to get to the football this afternoon. He was friendly and chatty and we had a little joke about him taking the last ticket because the match had been sold out when Commando tried to get some.

The phone rang again almost immediately.
“Marie, can you let me in? I’m locked outside,” it was Sabrina she’d forgotten her pass card. I’d been wondering where she’d got to. “I’ve been buzzing at the gate and calling but the phone was engaged.”
We had a laugh about it once she was inside and dry but later the laugh was on me.

Our pass cards don’t just let us into the building, they open the doors inside as well. To get out of each door there’s a button on the wall but to get back in you need a pass card. If you need to go to the kitchen or the loo you need a pass card. Once Sabrina had started her computer she borrowed my card to make herself a coffee in the kitchen. A little later I went to the loo. It wasn’t until I tried to get back in that I realised I’d not taken my card back. It wasn’t hanging round my neck where it usually is.

At this point there were two doors between me and the office and no one else in the building. I knocked but didn’t hold out much hope of her hearing. I tried the reception door but we keep it locked from the inside at weekends because we’re on our own. Just as I was considering going out in the rain to the main gate without my coat and buzzing for her to let me in she opened the door. What a comedy of errors. Still, I had a weekend ahead of me to enjoy.

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Marie

Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

16 thoughts on “The first frost”

  1. Your early morning pictures were a real pleasure to look at. Sorry the callers you get are so horrible, It must get too much sometimes. Glad you weren’t locked in without your pass for too long.

    1. The boardwalk does have strips of grippy stuff on every board but the frost was so thick it covered over them. I guess it’s a case of walk at your own risk.

  2. Thanks for the reminder to find my gloves! It hasn’t gotten too cold here yet, but we are supposed to get some kind of artic-Canadian blast next week.
    And that phone call…hmmm.. I’m not sure what to think!

    1. Gloves and a hat are going to be must have items pretty soon. The phone call was really weird, especially how she kept insisting on calling her cat ‘my pussy.’ The whole time I was waiting for her to start laughing and tell me it was a joke.

  3. On Sunday we had 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Barely over 24 hours later we’re at a bone chilling 11 degrees! I still had roses blooming and they froze stiff. I braved the snow to cut them and bring them in the house. So far they still look beautiful. Lovely post with your usual gift for capturing beauty with your camera. Thank you.

    1. That is a big change in such a short space of time. I’m surprised the roses thawed out inside and didn’t just turn to mush. We haven’t had another frost since that first one but the cold has set in along with rain. I’d rather have the frost.

  4. It always amazes me that in a country as small as England we can have words and phrases in common use in one area that people from another area just don’t know. What are “dolly steps” Marie?

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