25 NOVEMBER 1955, Page 49

WINTER DAYS We experience touches of frost before we have

anything like a real frost which, when it comes, is something to kill the tender shoots in the sheltered corner, put the final touches to the fall of leaves and make one think about the real wisdom of the old-fashioned idea that feather beds were unhealthy. A real frost that is dry stiffens the trodden mud in the lane and makes the day much more of winter than of autumn. It is almost as hard to distinguish the first days of winter as to be able to say, This is summer at last,' but winter for me is characterised by flocks of birds on the move, starlings, finches, sparrows, duck and strings of waders that go complaining along the edge of the water. It is also a day when the reeds are dry and rustle in the breeze, the weeds have sunk back into the depths, and the pike cruises once in a while'in pursuit of roach and dace or a fat little perch. The mornings of this sort of winter day are rare, but when one experi- ences them the sun is red, the air colder than ever, and there is a wonderful peace.