After the summer sun and autumn colors, early winter brings snow and ice to the ornamental garden.
The once flowing water has frozen overnight, but the morning sun is starting to bring some life back into the fountain.
The privet hedge is still green under its layer of snow, but everything else about the landscape is dull.
But it is not a solemn scene; far from it, the blue sky promises a clear day ahead, and we are wrapped up warm against the cold.
As we breathe our breath freezes in front of us, and out footsteps crunch on the ice, and it feels good to walk and to feel so alive.
It is winter, and soon we may get to yearn for warm days again, but for this moment, we are glad to be able to enjoy this winter landscape.
Not far from London, but seeming a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of that modern city life, is this Old Millhouse, somewhere in rural Essex, England.
An interesting setting, it speaks of industry, because this would once have housed a thriving business powered by the never-ending flow of water that could be harnessed to Man’s design. But what once would have been the height of modernity is now a relic of past times, and long gone industry.
The trees have grown and the building weathered, so that is now easy to imagine that the mill is actually part of nature; it has grown into the countryside that surrounds it.
But the river carries on regardless. It is unconcerned with the comings and goings of industry, with the habits of mankind. It continues to meander its way across the countryside, bringing fresh new life wherever it flows.
This image, with its mix of natural and man-made, suites itself particularly well to a formal room, hall or small office environment. Its feeling of history and renewal will provide an uplifting tone to any location.
For centuries the Parish Church has stood at the center of the village, and the heart of the village people.
Generations of families have been welcomed into the world here, have married, raised a family, and finally been laid to rest here.
The walls seep history, and not just the broad sweep of history that affects a whole nation.
Personal histories are told here in the wooden pews and the used hymnals. People have come here to celebrate and to mourn, to rejoice and to cry, to exalt and to lament.
The solid walls of the church have seen it all, known it all, and accepted it all. This is not just a building; it is carries the spirit of generations.
Sometimes we need a reminder that Mankind has been around a long time.
High on the cliffs above Hunstanton in Norfolk, England stand these two buildings.
The builders of St Edmund’s chapel in 1272 must have considered that this was the pinnacle of human achievement, as must the workers who proudly erected a lighthouse in 1844.
Yet today both have become tourist attractions, something for the visitor to admire.
But maybe we can sit a while and contemplate the broad sweep of history, and our place in it.
It is a warm and sunny day, and we are feeling happy and content as we walk through the graveyard.
There in front of us is a monument in the shape of a boat, and, intrigued we go to look more closely. The inscription speaks of a terrible storm at sea, and many lives lost.
Suddenly the pleasantness of the surrounding countryside is thrown into stark relief by this reminder of the darker side of nature. Despite the warmth we feel from the sun, we are reminded of the cold of the sea that these souls succumbed to.
We carry on with our walk, but a part of us stays here by this reminder of harder times.