Saturday, 1 July 2006

Sustenance

Sat in my garden, I miss their quiet heavyness on the dry warm grass. Standing, shuffling, come to this place again. The grazing beef cattle; untroubled, stolid, progressing around their kingdom, up bank and down ditch, stopping to gaze, at me or a tree or a hedge. Munching or treading, the grass was the key.

In the grass slide the slow worms, march the toads, scurry the mice and voles; buzzards climbing high thermals above, watching for the wave disturbance below that shows where the food moves along.

Hovering little birds above tall unbroken grasses, to dart in for a fly or a bug. Daringly plodding crows or rooks, turning about circle in the same speed of strutt around the whisked tails from cattle butts sat together in a particular favoured place.

The grass is all. Munched, flattened, sat upon, shat upon, fly breeding for baby birds; swallows and house martins busy as gliders skimming fast, mouths open taking in sustenance.

Gliders flew from grassy fields, over seas and fields to drop sustenance, took off from the next hill over there, to France, to bear arms and bear witness that they came from what is right. England.

Not patriotism, just that is where I am and that is what I speak of. My bit of England. The bit that I know, which is known differently to how it is known by my neighbours. The know their land differently. Theirs' to do with as they wish. They wish to dig it over, plant it with sheds, greenhouses, concrete paving slabs, metal and canvas furniture, parasols, bedding plants, rockeries. They may do as they wish.

It is someone else's field, my borrowed landscape, and they do as they wish.

Cut it, shave it weekly, disallow the cattle, the cowpats, the flies, the food sources. Each day the hour or more's pollution of air and quiet and visual peace, is their perogative.

I just wish it was not so.

Yet there is another field beyond them which is not their's, and another three adjoining not their's either, that remain; quietly not cultivated, owned, not altered. Where skylarks, buzzards, foxes inhabit, where deer come if I am up early enough to see them, who come regardless of whether or not I see them. Mother alert, watching eyes, neck flicking from side to side, head looking around, behind, while her two daughters (I imagine), slighter, softer, gentler fawn brown, content and unconcerned pick out the morning's break-fast delicacies from amongst the grasses.

I pleaded with the field owner for the grass beneath the old wide spreading tree and he has left that to grow up again and nettles and buttercups are beginning to come again and a variety of grasses. So the flies come again and make the tight figures-of-eights worthwhile for the house martins; just a quick few yards dash from the babies in their mud cup nests under the eaves, over the fence, round the tree and brambles and nettles and back again, with a soft balled insect meal.

There are two breaths in this afternoon's air; the fresh sea tinged (I imagine) breeze from the south east, and the thick sense of the warm grass rising up from the ground.

Two sources of noise on the afternoon air: the ancient denizens; chaffinch and blackbird, he singing after his drink in my garden, the woodpigeon in the tree: the recent arrival; cottagers no more in this old settlement, but house owners newly invigorated with tower tools and leisure time; threats to the landscape of this ancient settlement. This too will pass.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Remember the very compelling passage in The Wind in the Willows where Badger tells Mole how men came to the Wild Woods and built, and drove the wild creatures out, but the men and their works have passed and gone but the wild creatures remain.

Saturday, 1 July 2006 at 20:19:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Sadly, I have never read it; a literature deprived childhood. I shall put it on my Amazon wish list. For great literature has to be owned, not borrowed. Thank you Charles.

Saturday, 1 July 2006 at 21:25:00 BST  
Blogger BloggingMone said...

But I found "Wind in the Willows" soooo sad!!!

Sunday, 2 July 2006 at 15:40:00 BST  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Now I am experiencing the unworthy eomtion of envy.

Always I envy people who have the joy of coming to such classics for the first time, especially such as WITW, which is really not a children's book, and can be, as our friend says, very sad.

Sunday, 2 July 2006 at 17:59:00 BST  

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