The sun came up and found the old place lying as it always does in a mess of salt water and granite. Judging by the hazel banks and the fingery stems of the myrtle, you’d hardly know a thing had changed since yesterday. Fair enough, there was a din in the darkness towards midnight – I’ll give you that. Fireworks sprayed a mess of colour into the low cloud, and teal flew noisily off their pools in panic – but that was a moment’s upset in a night like any other.
I was down on the merse to see the morning. Flights of wigeon came in to roost on the mud, and the tideline was marched with a million dainty footprints. This creek lies in a brackish dead zone between fresh water and the sea – when the tide rises, the river runs under it and the channel flows two ways at once. When I was a small child, I stood on the steep banks and saw a long-dead calf floating out to sea. I watched until it was out of sight; and then an hour later, it came back again on the rising tide. It was fascinated by it, trying to imagine that weightless existence, rising and falling in daylight and darkness like the doings of a diaphragm. I suppose that it sank in the end and its meat rubbed up and down the same mile of mud, crowded with eels which trailed like ribbons in the tide.
Redshank came hunting through the black rocks, and a greenshank among them; big and well-jointed with an upkick in his bill. He walked and sought until a sparrowhawk dropped down from an ivied bough and razzed up behind him. He didn’t like that one bit. The two of them rushed away around the bend, and the greenshank shrieked and cried hell until he was out of earshot.
By ten o’clock, the cattle were being fed to the tune of a diesel engine. We’ve brought a washed-out, shattery world into this New Year. There’s nothing much to praise or be proud of in the deadness of hedges and rainwater which seems to stand in every rut and hoofmark. Low sun, blue cloud and then a steady roll back into darkness again. A thousand pigeons came up from the beech trees and battered away to another empty wood somewhere else. There’s been a goshawk going about, but she saw no reason to be seen today.
I’m never sure why I write this blog beyond the pleasure of writing. Sometimes I cast my eye back and recall some moment or other in these articles, and that can be a useful nudge for me. In writing this and recent posts, perhaps I’m marking the depths of a dire winter, which can be hard to imagine on a summer’s day. So a word to my future self – when daylight comes again, love it.