There’s a deep cold coming down from Siberia. Homeless people are dying in Poland. Already it has been a cold winter and it has only just begun. The mountains around us are white and in the woods you get startling images of black trunks against the snow. Yesterday there was sun in the sky, not in our valley which is now deeply shaded, but up in the mountains, so we took the car up as far as we could go before the snow made the road impassable. We parked at Monti di Villa and then walked up into the snow line, our breath foggy in the icy air, the sun warm on our backs. It was about 4.00 o’clock when we started walking, so it wasn’t long before sunset and as we walked the hues of a white land became pink and golden.
In the distance we could hear goats tinkle tinkling up the mountain paths, steadily coming towards us, until there they were, surrounding us, the dogs bounding around them lightly, keeping them in their gangly cluster. The old shepherd followed, leaning on his staff as he walked. He had a back pack on his shoulders with one of those lovely old wooden umbrellas strapped to it that the workmen here all seem to have, earthy and peasanty, the cloth a sturdy green. A silent man, he only ever nods, though maybe because he sees us often on these mountain paths, this day he sort of smiled and said something indecipherable in his soft gruff voice. Reluctantly, we turned about and made our way down the mountain to the car. It was magical.