The good thing is that the eternal grey skies of the last couple of months have finally given way to an expanse of almost cloudless blue and, as the days are slowly getting longer, with the sun rising just that little bit higher, we have been able to top up our depleted Vitamin D levels.
On Sunday before last, before the arctic weather was upon us, we made the 30 minute drive to Het Broek in Blaasveld, one of our favourite walking places.
Instead of at the main entrance, with its larger car park, we parked near a small, picturesque inn, called Het Fonteintje, which is sadly no longer in business
The last part of the drive is along this untarmacked stretch of road, which brings you to the eastern edge of the domain.
With daytime temperatures still firmly above freezing, there was only a flimsy layer of ice, mainly concentrated at the ponds' shallow edges or on shady pools and ditches.
Here I am standing at one of the new wooden platforms jutting out over one of the ponds. These have been especially erected for fishermen, the indentations in the railing meant to hold fishing rods.
I am wearing a rust-coloured plaid skirt from H&M by way of a charity shop, a moss green vintage houndstooth jacket with a brown fur collar, belted with a moss green belt, my old favourite multi-coloured wool scarf and a marled pink knitted beret.
The word "broek" means "marshy place" and indeed most of the area, apart from some sandy ridges, is only two to three metres above sea level.
This wonderland of boggy woods, ponds and brooks, lying in the valley of the river Rupel, is well worth a visit in all seasons, but particularly enchanting in Winter.
There's a bird hide overlooking a mirror-like, deceptively tranquil looking lake. It is the preferred haunt of birds of all plumage, and usually teeming with waterfowl: apart from several kinds of ducks, there are grebes, coots and moorhens, as well as migratory geese.
The quietness is regularly pierced by the honking of a colony of Canada geese, who consider themselves lord and master of this stretch of water.
Many centuries ago, mammoths, arctic foxes, reindeer, wild horses and Siberian rhinoceros roamed here in this wild, impenetrable place, rumoured to be the home of fairies and marsh spirits.
Now, the return of the otter, which was virtually extinct in Flanders, is patiently awaited from another, nearby nature reserve, while beavers, and their activity, have already been spotted.
Leaving the larger ponds behind and curving around a bend in the road, this landscape awaits, moody and dream-like.
The sky, a wintry blue, with clouds no more than mere wisps, is giving this half-submerged world, framed by grasses, rushes and skeleton trees, a truly timeless appeal.
Swollen by rainwater, this brook leads the eye to the yellowed meadow beyond, and beyond that, to a dense, thorny wilderness hiding its bounty below the soil, as if keeping its secrets safe until Spring.
Midday sunlight warms a world made hazy by a thin, silvery mist.
Here, the winter rains have flooded the low-lying grasslands, turning them into soggy water meadows.
Time for a picnic with a view. Overlooking the so-called otter and beaver island, which has an adventurous play area, we sat down on a tree trunk bench guarded by two bronze beavers.
The sun was just warm enough to show you what was underneath my jacket.
I chose a light grey blouse featuring tiny rosebuds, a double strand of purple beads, and a lilac cardigan. The skirt has a built-in half belt, so I didn't have to add one.
The boots I'm wearing are old and worn, and I keep them especially for muddy walks like these.
Meanwhile, the beavers were glad to look after my scarf, beret and handbag!
Such a glorious day, with a distant smell of Spring in the air. The sun's rays are getting stronger and, having caught the sun, we arrived home with red noses and a blush on our cheeks.
We continued our walk, meandering through woods and past more meadows.
This one is a particular favourite where we usually stop for outfit photos. Look how lush the grass was back in August! The photo on the bottom right was taken on the First of November.
Looking back towards the meadow, it's clear that it would have been impossible to walk up to the point where I was standing back in August and November!
One final stretch on a woodland path and we were back at our starting point.
We expect to be back here in a month or two to see how Spring has transformed this watery world.