Task 3 (8 points)
Read the text and do the task. Read the questions (1-8) after the text and choose the correct answer. An example (0) has been given.
Two days before the winter solstice. All that cold day, the city and the countryside around felt halted, paused. Five degrees below freezing and the earth closed down. Clouds held snow that would not fall. Out in the suburbs the schools were closed, people homebound, the pavements slippery and the roads black- iced. The sun ran a shallow arc across the sky. Then just before dusk the snow came – dropping straight for five hours and dropping at a steady inch an hour.
I was at my desk that evening, trying to work but preoccupied by the weather. I kept stopping, standing, looking out of the window. The snow was sinking through the orange cone cast by a street light, the fat flakes showing like furnace sparks.
Around eight o’clock the snow ceased. An hour later I went for a walk. I walked for half a mile along dark back roads where the snow lay clean and unmarked. The houses began to thin out. A few undrawn curtains: family evening underway, the flicker and burble of television sets. The cold like a wire in the nose. A slew of stars, the moon flooding everything with silver.
I followed the field path east-south-east towards a long chalk hilltop, visible as a whaleback in the darkness. Northwards was the glow of the city, and the red blip of aircraft warning lights from towers and cranes. Dry snow squeaked underfoot. A fox crossed the field to my west at a trot. The moonlight was so bright that everything cast a crisp moon-shadow: black on white, stark as woodcut. The trees were covered with snow, which lay to the depth of an inch or more on branches and twigs. The snow caused everything to exceed itself and the moonlight caused everything to double itself.
This is the path I’ve probably walked more often than any other in my life. It’s a young way; maybe fifty years old, no more. Its easterly hedge is mostly hawthorn and around eight feet high; its westerly hedge is a younger mix of blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel and dogwood. It is not normally a beautiful place, but there’s a feeling of secrecy to it that I appreciate, hedged in as it is on both sides, and running discretely as it does between field and road.
That evening the path was a grey snow alley, and I followed it relentlessly up to the grove of birch trees that tops the whaleback hill, passing off the clay and onto the chalk proper. At the back brink of the birch wood I lowered through an ivy-trailed gap, and was into the forty-acre field that lies beyond.
At first sight the field seemed flawless; glacier country. Then I set out across it and started to see the signs. The snow was densely printed with the tracks of birds and animals – archives of the hundreds of journeys made since the snow had stopped. There were neat deer slots, partridge prints like arrowheads pointing the way, and the pads of rabbits. Lines of tracks curved away from me across the field, disappearing into shadow or hedge. The moonlight, falling at an angle, deepened the dark in the nearer tracks so that they appeared full as inkwells. To all these marks I added my own.
The snow was overwhelmingly legible. Each print-trail seemed like a plot that could be read backwards in time; a series of allusions to events since ended. I found a line of fox pugs, which here and there had been swept across by the fox’s brush, as if it had been trying to erase evidence of its own passage. I discovered what I supposed were the traces of a pheasant taking off: trenched footprints where it had pushed up, then spaced feather-presses either side of the tracks, becoming progressively lighter and then vanishing altogether.
extract from The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane
0. What made the evening unusually quiet and still?
- The fact that Christmas was coming in two days.
- The author spent his first night in the countryside.
- Cold weather and people staying inside their homes.
- The storm that brought a significant amount of snow.
1. Which statement best describes the author’s work progress at his desk that evening?
2. What did the author NOT notice during his evening walk?
3. When going down the field path, what did the author pay attention to?
4. What did the author particularly appreciate about the trail?
5. Which statement best describes the author’s crossing of the hilltop?
6. What surprised the author when he reached the field that night?
7. What conclusions can we draw about the author’s interpretations of the signs in the snow?
8. Which statement best describes the intentions of this narrative?