Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Warmth at last.....

I've been lax with my blogging - sorry - here I am though, just back from a 25 miler and oozing sweat!

The transformation here over the past two days has been heartening. The cold and wet have been swept away by sun and heat - I'd forgotten what it was like to ride in the sunshine - I have been so wishing the good weather to arrive that I had forgotten the problems it brings. Actually there aren't many problems - it is infinitely more rewarding, relaxing and enjoyable than riding in the cold. One thing though that I had forgotten was the vast array of flying insects that seem to exist only to aim themselves at my face when I'm out on my bike. Of course sunglasses are a help - but today I'd forgotten mine - in fact I have no immediate clue to their whereabouts, it has been so long since they were last needed.

There is a clarity and a shouting of bird life everywhere - a thrush shouts out with a clash and jingle of silver. Pigeons moon and moan, a solitary cuckoo (the first I've heard this year) beats a bold and endless double note into an echoing monotony. There is a constant mad rushing of blackbirds, low and fierce in flight from place to place and a sudden laughing of woodpeckers in the tree tops. Noon is as noisy as morning and evenings even fuller. The summer break for silence seems a long way off. When there is no singing or flight or nest-building there are passionate interludes for mating: the fierce pursuit of blackbirds, the fickle beckoning of chaffinches, hens dancing, cocks fighting.

Alongside the road there is a stretch of marshy ground dotted with a paradise of flowers. The trickle of water that seeps towards the distant river is a blaze of colourful erruption. They grow in immense luminous islands, gigantic buttercups among lush clusters of pink stemmed burnished leaves of bottle green. There are leaves of wild iris too, swording upward from the black earth. And swathes of foamy cream cow-parsley. All of it seems to have appeared over the last few days - suddenly there’s an openness to the land, the yellow-brown glow of the river in the distance, the tall black shade of the woods. a meadow profusely overgrown with a display of wild flowers, the burdock that Lear made into a crown, the long purples that Ophelia weaves into a garland. As I pass over the canal there are holiday barges with flowerpots and brightly painted kettles on their roofs. A man lies on the roof of one strumming a guitar, a small terrier type dog stretched out with him. This is the heart and soul of Olde England - no sign of it having its back against the dry-stone wall - This at last, is the years great transformation in a climax of action - the whole character of the land is changing, birth and renewal, new life.

I pass endless cyclists - like the flying insects we are all out, attracted by the sudden heat and light. I ride through an avenue of trees that flutter and syncopate, camouflaging the open blue sky. But the insects are annoying me - they seem to concentrate on hitting my eyes - I'm constantly blinking, wiping, brushing them off. Bigger ones have settled on my arms and legs, I flail away at them as I travel along the lanes. It gets to the point where I have to tilt my head to the floor for relief - clearly this is not a good idea when travelling along the highway - I curse myself again for not having my glasses.

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