A cold, January day in the orchard, the sky a clear, washed-out blue, thin and insubstantial. A brisk wind blows from the west, cold on the fingers, the ears, the nose. The high stone walls afford much shelter, but stronger gusts still penetrate, spinning eddies across the meadow grass and setting the young fruit trees trembling delicately. Outside, the top branches of the big ash trees sway in imperious sweeps, the branches clatter in the gusts, twigs break off and tumble down.

At this midwinter time, even at midday, the sun scarcely rises over the rooftops. The south wall casts a shadow ...


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