Saturday, 21 September 2013

Thoughts from a Walk in the Countryside: The Stories of People and of Plants

Thoughts from a Walk in the Country: The Stories of People, and of Plants - Today's stroll was pleasantly warm and sunny. I made it as far as Sydlings Copse, but didn't go in, waiting instead for a little while watching the meadowed dell next to it, where I saw hares the first time. The barley is still not harvested, but the two ploughed fields are beginning to show colour again now, a pale, insipid sort of green that I shouldn't much like to have on a wall, but it suits the fields very well. It's a stark contrast for the bold dark green of the high conifers which serve as the crematorium wall, marking a stark boundary, presumably so that some tired and distracted farmer doesn't wander off the field in his tractor and start ploughing up the dead, which would raise eyebrows.

I passed more walkers than usual, including Mr Boxy, again. There was another great strapping fellow with a titchy yapping cocker spaniel, looking apologetic for its behaviour. Dogs can behave how they please in the country. Mr Boxy has a Cavalier King Charles. Both small effeminate dogs, in a way, slightly incongruous with their owners, and I wondered if their wives (or boyfriends!) had chosen them, and they do the walking to get out of helping with the dinner. And there was a lady jogger, lean and fit, so she was obviously good at it, with a very pleasing face, I imagined her laughing very loudly at a rude joke. I like people who do that.

And I looked at the barley, on its Death Row, golden and truly beautiful in the sunlight, and thought, I can't make up a story about you. You have two events in your life, both traumatic and violent - you are sown, and you are harvested. Though you are beautiful, so are the tens of thousands of your neighbours, so if, like the "mirror, mirror" Beautiful People in the human world, you like to be the centre of attention, that's going to be a disappointment. And you can't move, except to grow tall and sway your head in the breeze. It seemed that this is how generations of our ancestors lived - born, died, with a short life in a field in between. No choices, no options, no triumphs, no failures, no expectations. There may have been joy, though, sometimes. Of course, the barley won't know joy. But if so, to my eye, it gives without receiving.

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