June 21st, midsummer's evening. We decide to sleep in the shepherd's hut, a night away for the sake of walking across the field. Inevitably there is some football on the television so for much of the evening we are in the house as Ian watches while I potter about the internet. Then at around ten o' clock I gather up my reading glasses and my book. I am rereading, for perhaps the fourth or fifth time, "Notes from Walnut Tree Farm" by Roger Deakin. It is a book full of snippets of Deakin's writing, notes and diary entries, some several pages, some only a couple of sentences long. Some are musings about writing or nature. He walks, he works on the land, he writes about what he sees.
I put my boots on as the grass is already wet with midsummer dew and close the house door behind me. I should be bathing my face in this dew according to folklore, not padding through it in my wellies. The sky is still light and the swallows are still flying although the shadows under the trees are dark. Night is starting to seep into the day. I climb the steps and open the door of the hut. Inside the air is warm with the day's sun. I open a window and the top half of the stable door to let the air move gently through, a tiny breeze which just stirs the flowered curtains. I look out across the field, over the valley and up to the skyline. There is still sun on Moel Arthur although it fades even as I look at it. The sky moves from pearly blue to soft grey.
In the holly trees behind the hut a bird is singing. A solitary crow flaps slowly up the valley, out late. The bird falls silent. It is very quiet. There is a whispering as the breeze stirs the leaves of the rowan tree. From the farm next door I hear a dog bark, once, twice, then quiet. Across the valley a car moves on the lane but it is too far away for me to hear the engine. There is no noise, no hum from a fridge or a laptop, no central heating boiler or the sound of water running into the tank, none of the familiar background sounds of home. Our house is quiet, with no traffic noise and very little noise from our only neighbours at the farm. Visitors always comment about the quiet and the dark. But the hut is silent, gloriously, deeply silent with no sounds other than the natural, the rustle in the hedge, the scurry by the step. I hear a quiet tread and Ian arrives and pulls off his boots.
It is properly dark now. The shapes of the trees on the field boundary show up against the pale grey sky, their silhouettes revealing who they are: the great domes of oaks, the shaggy upward fling of ash, the piling cumulus cloud of the sycamore. We light a couple of tea light lanterns and switch off the lamp. There is not enough light to read by, just enough for a tiny glow to reflect a pinprick of light in the dark glass of the window.
It is very quiet and very dark. We sleep. I wake briefly at dawn to find the hut aglow with sunlight and birds singing from the hedge. I lie listening for a few moments and then drift back to sleep again.