I may have mentioned the machine that comes around after it has snowed.  Not the snow plough, this is a tiny thing; like a small military vehicle, with a popping motor and very squat, it chugs across the open terrain laying two sets of ski tracks for cross-country skiers.  The tracks shown here take a winding course down to the lake, swerving to the right above the line of Christmas trees to avoid our garden.

Having learnt to drive in London some forty years ago, when I ski I like to take the left hand track – not out of perversity, it’s just habit and forgetfulness.  I’m not very good at skiing. I can pick up quite a bit of speed, but I can’t slow down very effectively.  All the Norwegians, of course, drive on the right; but when they see me coming towards them they are adept at leaping diagonally into the parallel tracks.  It’s not as hard as you would expect, but I have to close my eyes, grit my teeth and stay on my side; if we both swapped over there would be broken limbs.

Poor Alex is only about as high as one of the ski tracks, but he’s very game and would be happy to try his luck.  I have to keep him away, he gets bogged in deep snow.

Fortunately, he’s easy to distract.

Later we caught sight of this couple.  They were round the back side of the neighbouring farm, where the tractors are kept.  As you can see, they’d started a small fire using lighter fluid.  They appeared to be burning the contents of a high-class shopping bag: papers or clothing, possibly.  As I walked past with the dogs, they stared.  I pretended I was sizing up potential tree pictures with my camera.  Then I snapped this as soon as their backs turned.  They must have heard the shutter click because they whirled around and looked concerned, but by then it was too late.

Now I have the picture, what do I do with it?  I think I show it: from Mauritius to Nova Scotia, from Moscow to Buenos Aires (via Taipei).

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