I had just finished putting my clothes back on after a cold water swim in a local (ish) lake.
I joined my husband and daughter who, perhaps more sensibly, had watched me from the side with coffee, shortbread and sweetcorn (my daughter's current favourite snack).
The post-cold-water-swim shake had started. We moved a little closer to one another, sharing a little body heat, enjoying the view and watching the swans glide silently across the lake I had, moments before, been in myself.
It was not one of those beautiful winter's days, cold and crisp with frost underfoot and visible breath. No. It was instead one of those overcast days when daylight feels darker than usual and everything on the ground is grey or rust coloured.
The beauty is still there, in its own muted way, but only if the time is taken to notice it.
As we sat, finishing our coffee and watching the the wind ripple over the water, another family of three arrived. There was nobody else around and plenty of space, yet they spread their picnic blanket only a couple of metres from ours. My husband and I glanced at each other, strange, we thought, to have all this space to choose from, and to come so close to us.
They did not make eye contact, they did not speak to us. Once settled on their blanket, they pulled a flask out, some mugs and a small glass jar. Before we knew it, they took the jar over to a nearby pine sapling, and emptied the contents on the ground.
They huddled together, cuddling, crying, clinging to one another for support.
We didn't stay too long after that. We wanted to give them their space, their time in this special place.
I don't know the story. I don't know who it was.
But what a beautiful place to be.
In the moments afterwards I was reminded how delicate life is, how fleeting. I was re-remembered to appreciate the beauty. To search it out and find it whatever the weather or the season. The smallest things to be so grateful for.
It is a place we visit often. We have so many memories and stories linked to that body of water, to those trees, to that sky. Now we have another.
I will always look at that small tree, as it slowly grows and wonder who is scattered at its roots.