The recent gales have ripped the last vestiges of the mantel of multicoloured mantels from the trees .Now the bare outlines stand silent like sentries guarding the skyline- a uniform greyness but beautiful in its own way . The countryside is enfolding itself in preparation for the cold days to come .The hedgerows have shrunk and the fields look tired .Yesterday the hunt came past our house - its not something I can approve of but the horses were magnificent , groomed and plaited their coats glossy , their eyes rolling in anticipation of the gallops ahead .The huntsman in their red coats stared down haughtily from on high surrounded by baying hounds . It was all so very English and a little part of me warmed to it - they claim to only drag hunt but all of us round here know that is only part of the story .This afternoon , quite late , I walked up through our village - always a delight at this time of year because as dusk falls the lights come on in the houses and curtains are not yet drawn so one can look in on other people's lives . I caught the first smell of wood smoke lingering in the air and as I turned for home the turquoise sky was streaked with amber and gold - signs of cold night .
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