Proper ice this morning. Thick where puddles had been previously. This is winter: sun bleached, frosty and conjured from shadow and light. This is the time of stories - tales to fill in the blanks, to comfort long nights and long journeys.
Even a quick stop in town to find plimsolls for the wife's school play becomes an odyssey - with each shop a labour to be overcome. Find the shoe section, scout for the precious object, avoid the sales reps using cunning and speed, as well as trusting to the luck of the fates.
The epic continues outside, caught on the ebb and flow of the shopping tide, steering clear of the charity collectors - sirens that call to your conscience even as time ticks down.
As the end nears, the action becomes ever more desperate, and you look in places unseen and face dangers unknown: departments stores, shoe shops, sports shops, fashion boutiques, craft stalls; until, at last, wearied and bedraggled you stumble upon a sign. A shop ending its life, its stock placed like an alms bowl for you to see - and there, in its stripped down interior, you find lying there unobtrusive to everyone else, but to you lit clear by the aura of the gods, the fleece - in sizes 7 and 9.
True this might else have been a journey of cold, of crowds and muddled and deliberately obtuse interior design; but that would be to give an authority to 'the real' that it does not deserve at this time of year. For as the days grow short pomposity and pragmatism give way to imagination and camp. So, there I was, huddled in coat and gloves, yet also afloat on my imagination - and this time didn't shout - even when battling armies of skeletons grown from dragons teeth (at least that's what I thought they were...).