Voices have been raised in complaint against the weather. Not enough rain, too much rain, too much wind, too much cloud; but all of them have their good points. Hoover and I I walked out one fine summer morning and saw how the hedgerows are decked out in fine array. The fields, too, are littered with flowers, irrepressible poppies peering over the heads of fattening wheat, egged on by buttercups, competing with hogweed that lack wandering pigs to keep it under control.
The farms lie tranquil, drawing breath after the lambing season and gathering strength to prepare for harvest. Now is the time for holidays and our neighbours have been in France enjoying a rest and welcome warmth.
With time on their hands some of the farms have been trimming the old tracks that we walk. Hoover was delighted and skiped ahead of me, checking in each gap for rabbits and deer. I chased after her, my pockets stuffed with biscuits to tempt her to stay close at hand. It is hard to resist these beckoning paths and our walks recently have dived off in all directions as more of these paths are cut and we explore further afield.
At the cross roads we had a dilemma; the path we know and love, tended and cared for… Or the one we take less often.
We took the road less travelled, walking with our hands above our heads to avoid the deer ticks which feel no compunction to keep to deer. I have become adept at taking them out of Hoover and Shadow, but have to persuade Jay to take them out of me. Preventatively, I wear well covering clothes and walk like some prisoner in an old fashioned western, with hands well above my head. We enjoyed the vetches and campions. Seeds of cow-parsley, already forming, tickled our arms. Hogweed nodded at head height and our passing scattered puffs of grass pollen that wafted visibly in the breeze. After a pause to admire the view across a field while Hoover returned from checking out a deer trail we met Dave. He is in training to walk Kilamanjaro, clocking up 500 miles at speed, and overtook us briskly, disappearing down the track, swallowed up by undergrowth. I wondered if we might see him when we hit the road, climbing the hill to the next village across the valley, but he is long gone from our vision by the time we hit tarmac.
As we rounded the corner and came into the village again we met Leon walking his puppy, a border terrier who is full of energy and curiosity. Imp bounced like a small, brown, india rubber ball, first at Hoover, then at me, then at the world at large.
“I’m trying to wear him out,” said Leon. “But he spends all his time investigating things. We’re aiming to walk down to the farm and back. Reckon we’ll be lucky if we’re back before nightfall.” A car passed us. “Like Picadilly on this road today,” he muttered. Imp bounced, Hoover circled round him, I laughed.