When Hoover and I set out on Tuesday morning a bitter wind battered us from the east. The sound of it crashed like waves against the hedge, it’s fingers reached through deer tunnels to tug at my jacket and wriggle into the chinks in my armour.
Hoover remained undaunted, glaring at the wind, collecting useful sticks and investigating the trails of other walkers. No bird dared sing, and the only sound to fall from the sky was the grumble of a small plane pinned like a trophy butterfly against the blue. With hunched shoulders and hands thrust deep into pockets, I hurried along in the lea of the hedge, thankful for its shelter, wondering if my cheeks
would be permanently frosted. Still, the sun was shining and what could there really be to complain about? The last of the snow drops freckled the ivy on the banks of the cemetery reminding me of the determination of fragile things.
Wednesday morning started with a promise of good things to come. The wind had dropped and though it still buffeted us and tugged at Hoover’s ears it was more affectionate. We walked the far side of the valley, up past the badgers’ sets, recently spotted by the county council who have decided to put up signs telling us that the footpath has been moved to where we have all walked for many decades and that we must beware of active badger sets. It is apparently perfectly possible for the badger sets to have been active since before the church was built, and yet now we need a sign warning us that they are there. Certainly they take up one corner of the field and when they plough that area the tractors skirt round the gaping holes. Not so Hoover. She inspected each spoil heap, and late evening summer walks are taken via another route to avoid any possible confrontation.
In the next valley the low sun threaded the Devil’s Brook with silver. Why the Devil’s brook? I wondered. It seems harsh to have demonised a stream that is so beautiful. Is it because it nearly dries up in summer, dwindling to a trickle that will not support cattle grazing nearby? I suppose a deceptive stream can not be seen as a good one, no matter how beautiful it appears as we look down on it now. Hoover had no answer as she tapped at frozen puddles, breaking the ice to release a drink.
The rhubarb that lingered in the shadow of the house as we set off was still doused in last night’s smattering of frosted snow whilst the daffodils in the yard were already tossing their heads in the sunshine, a speck of brilliance promising warmer times to come.
As we set off past the church yard the vicar was lighting a brazier in the church yard.
“We doing an explanation of Easter,” Sue explained. “It’s for the school children to throw their sticks into and get rid of their sins,” she added
“What? They can just burn up their sins?” I asked, wondering how big a bonfire I would need to make myself sinfree. Hoover chased two other dogs round some gravestones as I pondered the seemingly pagan rituals of the Christian church before we set off for higher places.
The wind had dropped to a soft caress that stroked my cheek. Larks competed noisily for territory as tits and sparrows flitted through the hedges below them. The blue stretched clear and wide above our heads. I could have walked all day, but work beckoned and the burst of energy from the morning sunshine will infuse today’s work with pleasure. It is easier to think positively when I can hold that clear light in my mind.