I drove snow-packed roads to the barn, carefully, glad to have a four wheel drive truck. There was little other traffic and I was glad. I can cope with these conditions, but there are others who think that ABS brakes suspend the laws of physics.
The temperature hovered around the freezing point, not all that chilly really, however the damp air made it feel colder.
The barn was silent save for horses breathing, eating hay and occasionally stamping. No-one else had come to ride.
Fresh from her stable Brena was warm and clean. Just a little brushing and picking out her feet, then she was ready for her saddle.
Out and about the cold had turned muddy trails into firmer and more picturesque versions of their former selves. We walked through porridge rather than goo. It was better.
Brena was fascinated by frozen puddles, which she proceeded to reach down to and lick. Why can't I drink the water? She is a great one for drinking from puddles. Then we walked on, dusted by snow from overhanging boughs. On we went into a silent and unpeopled world like travellers long ago or, perhaps, in a depopulated future beyond vehicles.
Snow-dusted trees stood sharp and clinical as engravings.
A hare fled across an almost boundless expanse of white.
We were alone, Brena and I, and not for the first time.
We might have been riding to the far horizon, on an epic voyage south to find green and warmth, solitary travellers in the midst of a great continent.
Or we might have been carrying a message, following a remote trail to avoid detection, secure in the knowledge of a safe lodging to be reached before nightfall.
Yes, the fields had been ploughed, once. But those who tilled have gone. It's a desert once more, a sterile white expanse. Like that hare, the population has fled. Brena and I, we are survivors from a past age. We're both out of place and in our environment.
And, snow or not, Brena will find something to eat. She always does. Really I have been blessed with an ideal travelling horse.