I’m sitting on a bench on the edge of a woodland. The sky is heavy with clouds in shades of grey, rain is threatening. The dandelions and daisies have curled themselves up tight – ‘refurled’ to keep cold and water at bay. In the wood there are saplings by the dozen hopefully pushing up through the soil, their first true leaves soft and green against the dark woodland floor. In stereo the birds sing an evensong from every tree, it is a harmonious dusk soundscape. Only one yellow wood anemone remains, all the others now returned to the earth for another year. The daffodils too are finished, the bright yellow flowers replaced by swollen green heads of seed.
I love the early evening, the point at which the day of work is over and before the night descends. This lingering dusk is so atmospheric, the twilight comma of the day. It is one of the things that drew me back to the UK after years of absence – Cyprus, although beautiful, has such a fleeting moment betwixt day and night. Little time to stop and reflect on the changing light on the landscape before darkness falls.
My dog is lying on the grass surrounded by a plethora of broken sticks not of his making. The night’s rain and wind has left a trail of small branches to crunch underfoot. The little waterway nearby is full of pond plants – some perfectly familiar whilst others trumpet their exoticism – parrot weed, a garden pond escapee, fills one whole section crowding out the native plants. The duck weed floats without ducks to disturb it, tennis balls and footballs bob around beyond reach.
The smell is so evocative, rich and earthy - damp nettles, brambles and new buds on trees. I love that scent, it fixes me to the ground, locates me in this place. The lilacs are just going over, their scent turning from sweet to cloying like the final desperate act of a spurned lover. The elderflower is in bud with the promise of cordial to come.
Hawthorn covered in small white flowers are offering themselves for collection to heal the hearts of the lovelorn and lost, the heart-broken and stressed. It is a small tree with magical powers for the heart. The wild garlic and bluebells vie for dominance in woodlands across the county, each colonising a different space, rarely able to coexist. The new leaves on the trees unfurl from their sticky buds to start the annual cycle again, fresh and green. The seasons turn, the plants grow, set seed and rest for the winter. There is comfort in that.
Time to leave and wander back to our crooked, ancient house, to retrace familiar steps. There is something so reassuringly soothing about walking – not to stride or rush but rather to slowly put one foot in front of the other, breathing in familiar scents, freeing the mind to notice the changes in well observed hedgerows and landscapes. And then finally the light slips into night. This is home.