Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Summer warmth....

Have you noticed how warm it has been lately? It crept up on me really, I had given up on summer for this year, then it was here, clingly and claggy and sticky. The conker trees are in fruit - won't be long now before we can string up a couple and have a few games. Conkers are just beautiful fresh from the shell, unbelievably shiny and new.

Cycling down familiar lanes there is a canopy of branches and leaves that seem stitched together, closer and closer - the result is an almost tent-like roof effect overhead. This living green shuts out the light and creates a tunnel like experience for a few hundred yards. There are foxgloves in the hedgerows and willow-herb, growing together in erect close masses of pale strawberry colour. I pause at a farm gate and climb off the bike - I just want to look around for a few moments, although I haven't been riding particularly hard or fast, I have worked up a considerable sweat. I take off my helmet, hang it from the handlebars and enjoy a few long draughts from my water bottle. I notice goose grass growing in the verges near the gate, I smile, that plant provided much amusement to me years ago as I threw it onto my brothers back.

I mount the bike and move on - no rush though - this is a slow, gentle ride. As I pass through a small village the church bell tolls - the vicar has arrived for evensong, there is a cricket match taking place, I pause to watch, a breathless hush, the field is full of shade, the aroma of leather, mown grass, linseed oil and egg sandwiches. The batsman strikes the ball cleanly and the handful of spectators acknowledge with a few lazy handclaps. And I set off for home as another working Monday arrives on the radar.

As I ride along ancient lanes it seems the past is still reachable, the soft rolling contours, the gnarled, twisted trees and the signs that indicate I'm close to a battlefield - just under my wheels there must be things...... artefacts, bones, the evidence of the past and of man's inhumanity. I wonder if anyone from those times would recognise the landscape now - how different is it some 500 years later?

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