Dusk is my favourite time of day. The day is done, a relaxing evening awaits. Dusk on a winter’s evening is a particular favourite, full of nostalgia. Tonight a cool mist rises from the earth, all is still, even the smoke from chimneys hangs in the cold air, as the houses around us glow yellow and warm, promising an evening filled with hearty winter comfort food, a comfy couch, a good book or movie (or another night in front of the Olympics on TV), and maybe a nice glass of red wine. Life is good.
I love to be out at this time of night, bracing against the shock of the cold on my skin. I love the soft warmth of a woollen scarf around my neck and face, a heavy coat keeping the cold out, a hat and gloves. But I also like the sensation, if I stop moving my feet, of the cold reaching up through the ground, tentacle-like, through the soles of my boots, threatening to chill my warm toes.
These feelings always evoke so many memories and emotions, particularly of my father, our life together on the farm, and more recently his death three years ago yesterday. August is often our coldest month, but it is also the time of year when lambs are born, and when I was growing up, lambing season coincided with a three-week winter break from school. So naturally on the farm we were put to work.
Every evening, just prior to nightfall, we would go around the sheep and lambs, to check that all was okay, to try to reduce any losses overnight. August memories are of these freezing evenings in the paddocks with my dad, sister, and the farm dogs. The newborn lambs feeding, their tails wagging frenetically as they drink, their mothers’ size protecting them, keeping them warm. The grass already heavy with dew, a frost looms, and the skies are clear and cold. As we headed home, the stars would appear, like tiny glittering specks of ice. Shivering now. But always there was the promise of a warm, happy house and a hot dinner waiting.