Driving inland from the coast was to leave the white-fringed green fields from which much of the snow had melted for a landscape that was entirely white as the road climbed to the mountains. Most of the day was spent up there and on the return journey the eye accustomed to the harsh white glare was suddenly calmed by the mildness of green as the steep road dropped beneath the snow line.
We met in the hills to walk the River Marteg, a tributary of the Wye, which flows down the upper part of the valley into a narrow gorge beginning with a waterfall where the waters cascade over rocks to the valley floor. On this day the white water created by the cascade blended with the snowfields on either side but the deeper waters gave off a jade tint as they swirled in the hollows. Icicles hung from rocks inches from the rushing waters capped with unmelted snow.
On the far hillside the woodland was in three layers. Green conifers with snow-edged foliage, bare larches and, on the lower slopes, birches whose bare twigs created a mist of reddish hue along the river's edge. Further dowstream the waters bubbled over rocks and it was here, in this flatter but still dramatic part of the river that we stopped on the way upstream to make a dedication:
For Brighid and the silver streams
Running deep in the Earth
For the kindled fire
And the sacred well
And the hope she guards through the dearth
Find her in the snow-filled dell
Where the old dry leaves lie still,
Look for her in the empty woods
Where the early shoots are bidden
But slowly as the fire grows
For her secrets are yet hidden.
These are words I have used before, but never did they seem so appropriate as here in this rocky valley in the Cambrian Mountains with the snow all around us. Each of us cast our own offering to the flood to be swept away by the swift currents, taken into the running waters among the speaking stones to disappear into the flow, so no-one but the river would know save for these words which, in themselves, complete the dedication.