This afternoon I walked. The rain has finally stopped, for now, and the sun is warm beyond the cool wind. In pockets of windlessness I stop and stand. Just stand, and whilst I do this just standing thing, I look around me. This rock, upon which I live, drains easily, our blessing at times of extreme wet when, in other places, flash floods bulge against the feeble boundaries of our homeland, compromising good folk at the very least, rendering them homeless at worst.
I notice cornflowers in what used to be a dank, dark, confinement of poultry, the ground as black as a bog in a bad mood and about as useful a member of the eco system. The land, now cleared by new owners, has light enough to revive it and there has been a whole summer for this process to evolve. Cornflowers! I remember way back in Tapselteerie days, a snail mail bit of information coming to me. It could have been the newspaper, or perhaps conveyed over the CB radio (Lady Q, Lady Q, are you there?). I forget. But I do remember a heart slump when I heard that corncrakes need cornflowers and that cornflowers, like so many other wild species, are threatened by those who buy plots in romantic places, on a whim whilst on holiday, and then divorce.
There are two, no three plants. There are others there too, ones I cannot name, but these flowers must have hidden beneath the poultry bog for decades, just waiting for someone to lift the scrub and get shot of the birds and their flodden shelters and wire cages. I wanted to laugh out loud, and would have, had I not noticed the nice lads arrive back from their day out at the, now, holiday cottage with a view to die for. I waved instead and kept going. Along my walk I looked down at fallen birches, lady trees, exhausted after rainfall and foolishly light rooted. Allowing for the fact that these birches have grown spindly as starving models for some years, hooked only talon deep on a rocky hillside, I thanked them for growing at all. They are brave, plucky, and will have offered some bird a nest and the chance to fledge her young. Now, they will be dragged and chopped and stacked to warm the owners of the estate, perhaps telling stories, as they spit and flame up in the last throes of dying, to anyone with ears to hear. Knowing the owners and their intuitive little family, I have hope.
A walker, lost and looking for her husband plus dogs. He has gone in search of an otter sighting. I guide her to the two possible places, having established, first, the description of his journey to her. I know this place so well. Any landmark, once questioned and developed, will tell me where a visitor might have gone. Over 40 years loving this rocky peninsular, I may not have learned the google map or satellite or even the ordinance survey location of this quarry or that pier but if someone tells me of the place they really want to find, I can guide them. Dogwood, ceps, foxgloves, wild thyme, cicely, giant hogweed, scabious, thistle, harebells, campion, mountain arens, bog myrtle and heather all rise to say hallo and I say it back. Soon, but not yet, the cold will snatch. The snipe will lie in fallows of brushwood, the owls will hoot through the night and the light will fight the dark.
But not yet, not yet. Mother Nature will fold her skirts slowly. And, for now, I can enjoy brambles thrusting through pretty much everything with barbed fingers offering sweet delight; I can laugh at cornflowers that have found light after so much darkness; I can find a late poppy, red as blood and fragile as a woman’s heart and I can stand and watch them all, breathe them in as new breath, marvelling, once again, at the beauty of this gifted life.