Fourteen brief, fresh short stories set in a pristine Welsh countryside--Norris' point fixe for the lazy joys and quick terrors of boyhood, the unpleasant surprises of middle age, and the aches of lives fallen into inconsequence. In the title story, young boys invade a wintry pond where ""the face of the ice was gray and blind,"" and the lark ends with a hint of death and a numb run for safety. Elsewhere, a rich, self-made man, many years from home, remembers his father's burial and the grasses which moved that day ""obeying rules of an excellent sort."" An elderly man, now ""too English,"" visits his sister in Wales and, outfaced and superseded by newcomers, confronts living ""on the shadowy margins."" Other stories concern the possession of men by their land and there are amusing tales about dogs and gallivanting youths, as well as a tribute to birds of prey with a sardonic human reference. Norris writes with a narrative flow which can mist up atmosphere like a bright stream on a capricious summer's day.