February 4 2016 Hansel, South Devon
The land crosses its arms and cradles in the cleft of crossing wrists a valley. A wide, shallow stream with fallen weirs for conversation, lawns and steeply sloping woods, dense on the south, sparse to the north with meadows laid out like picnic cloths to make the most of a bouncing sun shining through hedgerow curls. And though at a glance most call it winter in February it is not.
Birds sing the light in and out as it washes like a tide on the hills. Ducks sit secretly on downy eggs and hens wear deep red combs on glossy heads as they strut through Tudor studs of primroses, yellow pouts of daffodils and green-edged bells of silent snowdrops. The muscles of the shoulders of the land flex easily, sweating springs as they do their deep, quiet work of clasping tree roots in high winds, urging sap to tree tops and greening fields for sheep.
I step out into soft, mild, morning-cloud air that settles on my skin and moistens it. In a few days I shall step out of an airport into dry air and strong sun that will send serotonin shooting up my skull to break a smile like a hatching egg. I shall move differently. A girasol, a sunflower.
And as I travel in these next spring months, through late Antipodean summer into autumn, I shall at times lie back and rest in thoughts I’ll carry of those cradling, crossed, green-spring arms where a wide and shallow, chattering stream flows over boulders under the shoulders of an old, more northerly land.
Copyright February 2016