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White winter sun spills through the kitchen window. Illuminates cobwebs which are become white garlands in the startling brightness.

The cat sits on the window ledge scratching at the panes to come in. His little breath puffs in frosted explosions against the glass.

The hoary garden stretches up behind him. Terraces of sandstone spattered with bare whitened branches of hedge and tree. Tendrils of summer’s planting darkened to stark fossil etchings on the blond sandstone rockeries.

The Clyde sings into the silence of the morning. Swollen throated. Bringing the voices of ice and waterfall, of rain and snow-melt from high in the valley. A peregrine circles in the stark light of a clear sky and the crows scatter raucous, wheeling clumsy and indignant to the bare black tree husks which cling precariously to the valley side.

Last year men came with chainsaws and permits to slash and burn the blackened ghosts. Their towering height a skeletal tree-cathedral reigning over the valley. Crashing with every storm into the ravine that yawns just before the tenements. This year there are rotting stumps amongst the wooden girders that hold up the valley sky and are hung with the jetted jewels of crows nests and rookeries.

Spilling the over-ripened fruit basket into the garden I see the badgers have begun earth-moving. The old ginger cat has followed me up the garden steps. He paws the turned earth, sniffing and scenting it. Then moves lazily to the seat where the white sunlight has warmed frost from the old wooden boards.

I look back down to the house. Neglect has nurtured grass which grows from the guttering at the gable-end. The storms of the last weeks have loosened slates. The chimney granny is crooked and still – smoke from the wood-burner spilling in a crazed arc from its several mouths.

This place is Home.

And yet, there are still some who would ask why I live here.

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