1 July 2017
Branch broken lies upon the forest floor; not bleeding, no sap has passed this way for years. As the tree leapt for the light this limb was left in growing darkness. Sustenance pumped to the expanding canopy bypassed this once living bough; and with a little wind it broke and fell, unremembered and uncared.
2 July 2017
Bramble moves unseen in bursts behind my back. Yesterday a small green shoot as innocent as a babe in arms waiting quietly to one side. Today it has climbed the wild tangle crossed the void and begun to burrow into the path’s far side. I suspect tomorrow it will drape down and try to strangle me.
3 July 2017
This earth is flat, or so it seems, but walking shows up its gentle falls and rises. The dogs move horizontally but also vertically. Within those minimal hills and valleys there is a layer of smaller ups and downs, banks and slopes. And within these the stones and clumps of earth themselves form smaller level changes. And this continues down and down.
4 July 2017
The sun is back after her week long rest and rehabilitation. She has allowed the wind and rain and storm to play upon the earth to blow at plants and trees and to frighten dogs and birds; and now she returns to take her rightful place and bring a sense perhaps of calm, at least for now.
5 July 2017
A walnut lies beside the path, a seed, a chance of life; it either happens or it doesn’t. Of walnut trees there are tall walnuts and stunted walnuts, there are beautiful walnuts and twisted walnuts, but there are no half walnuts. Life comes in many forms and each life may lead in many ways; but whatever it is, it is all or nothing.
6 July 2017
Air is thick and heavy, dense, torpor inducing; it sits, a heavy blanket across the land holding leaves still and muffling the songs of the few birds inspired enough to do more than sit on twigs and look for worms. Rain tries to form to tear apart the tension but can barely squeeze out a few hefty drops.
7 July 2017
There is a quietness to this day, not of sound suppressed but as of an adolescent lying abed when the morning comes to consciousness; turning half-awake, struggling to maintain the comatose nature of the night and hold on to a few more moments of precious dreamtime; and the sinews of the plants and the muscles of the animals must stretch and move and make this meditation miss a beat, arise and mindfully amuse and then amaze us once again.
8 July 2017
Sky spits and takes some night time heat from out the dawn. Sun sits behind the clouds and smiles and smirks and sneers; still at his annual zenith he has no respect for others and is honed and in the zone, and ready to rumble. Swords are being sharpened, shields are being polished and loins are being girded as we head into a day that is promising storms.
9 July 2017
Quiet morning, grey sky, no breeze, surprisingly cool given recent heat; a sense of the churchyard just after dawn when the ghosts have gone and the moon shadows have passed; contemplative. Stream is muted, insects few and birds are quiet. Some ignore the call to reflection and flit and flap, sing and twitter and one demented woodpecker attacks an oak a hundred times its age.
10 July 2017
Once again the morning is quiet still grey and cool; and this despite the goddesses of thunder and rain having spent last evening carousing and gutter spilling bawling through the neighbourhood. The birds have a little less lethargy and their songs, still somewhat muted match the rising music of the river that has moved from measly and paltry to a wondrous and vibrant low.
11 July 2017
Voices in the field yonder as children call to horses. Old dog turns his head and looks, checks they are beyond the bounds and there is chance of territorial infringement; turns back to me to ask, are we going for our walk? Young dog barks and shows his gristle before attention is diverted by a beetle; then turns to me with the same question.
12 July 2017
Soft rain, worthy of so many Cumbrian summers; dogs take no notice of the accumulation in their fur. It comes and goes leaving patterns on the leaves and blades of grass bent like scimitars growing droplets of inordinate size and clarity. One droplet’s fall precipitates a flicker that clears them all; but on rare occasions, some cling on eating friends and growing once again; dictators astride their narrow worlds believing they can stop the coming sun.
13 July 2017
Damp and still; the sense that no-one has dragged themselves from bed this morning; and not from a heavy night, for there were no storms or wind. The birds make little noise; if insects move they do it underground or underleaf. The trees seem listless and the grasses languid, lying low and loose.
14 July 2017
Peace of gentle birdsong amongst dappled shadow is broken by young dog momentarily silent as he calculates angles and distance – then throws them to the winds and chases anyway; some largely black low legged speedy creature that shoots off across the stream. Young dog leaps and is drawn inexorably to the mud of the opposite bank. Running and barking ensue, followed by much barking and running. Then home for breakfast.
15 July 2017
It is at the margin that it registers; every morning as we pass from open land to wood, from sun to shade, from gentle rain to drip; as we cross that gap the birdsong surfaces and despite daily memory is an unexpected delight; that first note that is not just one but the first of many signals a concerto of the music of the world, and if luck will have it accompanied by the regular tinkle ripple and rumble of moving water. Storm and thunder may add noise, but it is water and the sounds of birds that are the songs of Gaia.
16 July 2017
Flies dominate the world; not just those small black things that flit from droppings of the dogs and other animals then nestle on the skin; but dragonflies in green and iridescent blue that cruise by or swoop from leaf to twig and back again, commonly in pairs and often paired, mating on the wing; and those most beautiful of all, butterflies, usually within the wood in shades of brown, subtle eyes staring out from folded wings.
17 July 2017
Brambles cut in Spring are working hard to reconnect across the path; some creep across the ground, others clamber high to droop and catch the other side, and some hold out their limbs to find a mate with whom they may intertwine. I wonder as I slip between their quivering fingertips whether this path is ‘that vile wall’ or a Veronese square; and if the latter, which couple are represented by these searching fronds.
18 July 2017
Still windless breathless fresh; dew hidden in the denser grasses briefly holds down the heat rather than increase the clamminess. It will not last. Sounds are soft but clear; the beauteous birdsong breaks upon mine ear; old dog’s laboured breathing speaks his joy at companionship; a horse neighing to its neighbour from a distant field; and a dragon snorting in a hidden dell.
19 July 2017
An adolescent breeze barely stirs the air as if it was having trouble turning in its bed whilst trying to decide upon this morning’s reason for going back to sleep. It is a breeze that may blow away or build into a storm, but most likely will fade into a lazy languid sleeping silent fart.
20 July 2017
Bramble hawthorn and sloe stretch out in a wall along the path. Some bases thick as wrists, some new growth thinner than a baby’s little finger; all thorned and barbed, spiked and hooked. And in amongst this prison for a sleeping beauty fruit begins to show; the autumn harvest is being prepared.
21 July 2017
Not on a bank with wild thyme but at a shaded spot beside the path there grows a thistle. Spiky but not spiked like the bramble and briar; a robust weed that grows where it will; symbol of beauty and rebellion; a purple, not dark and stained like that of emperors and of kings; but young and vigorous, soft and gentle, looking forward to life.
22 July 2017
We three rise to a silent world, surrounded by the sleeping mass of close camped humanity; we walk connected by voice, by lead and by amity. The occasional child calls in their sleep or cries at some imagined slight or monster; then they fade away as we descend and approach the lake and silence returns to be disturbed only by gentle ripples on the surface.
23 July 2017
As we walk, the dogs work the ground and see a world I can never know, nosed and sniffed from another level; the shoulder slope built by evolution to hold the head at the perfect angle to keep the nose a nano-distance above the earth; man’s millennia of breeding have changed appearances but a wolf is still a wolf even when it is disguised as a beagle or a griffon.
24 July 2017
Water has pummelled on the land, beating trees and grasses, bending the beautiful thistle and damaging its delicate flowers. It may be spiky and proud, robust in its singularity but it too can be hurt, caught and trapped; and yet it will arise again as battered as a homeless drifter, but proud uncrushed.
25 July 2017
The wood is waiting for the world to wake. A few birds are calling, asking if their friends are up to chat; the river grown from rain moves volumes with a silence that sweeps around the curves and smooths the banks; the breeze squeezes itself to slip between branches without disturbing the leaves.
26 July 2017
The sound of water on earth and falling from leaves is not the same as on the hard surfaces of brick and tarmac, iron and tin; the cityscape adds depression to the rain. The horizon is not the gentle movement of a tree in breeze or the line of a hill presaging the sunrise; it is the flicker of security lights and the sad shadow of razor wire that greets the dawn.
27 July 2017
Suburban brick clings to country roots with carefully tended gardens; selected birds parrot permitted songs. Concentration of humanity demands rules carved on pavements; painted signs require people to act like human beings. Country visitors sneer as they pass, polishing their perceived superiority.
28 July 2017
The suburban gardens will grow their grass and flowers whether or not we are there to cultivate them; weeds may multiply but they will not devour. We owe the earth to our grandchildren; we must hold them in their mothers’ arms, whether sleeping peacefully or waving at the world.
29 July 2017
Like a teenager’s bedroom strewn with discarded clothes and stepped out of shoes, the oaks have scattered the woodland floor with the first of summer’s fruits. Most to be eaten or squirrelled away, and like you and me one in a million will grow to some type of maturity.
30 July 2017
One branch at a time the sloes turn from green to black, darkening toward the winter. There is a marvellous magic in the mechanism of fruit; the gift of a meal in return for one gut-wrenching rollercoaster ride to who knows where. And rumour has it that some of those cracked by the frosts will swim in gin.
31 July 2017
Elderflower has virtually given way to elderberry; still green with a hint of that acid touch of a spring long gone. It looks a poor tree does elder, bent and wizened like an old man carrying sticks; not good for fuel or for furniture; yet it grows and greens and ripens and is good for elder.