A walk in May
It was cloudy this morning but fine and rain was forecast for later in the day so we set off over the stile by our gate, going down to see if the shire horse and foal were out.
The footpath takes you along the edge of the farmer's field and to another stile onto a narrow track. In the two weeks since I walked it the track had darkened as the overhanging trees came into full leaf. Now it is a green tunnel. On either side bluebells cling to the edges mixed with tiny white stars of a flower I cannot name. Halfway down the valley some big trees have been felled but have not been moved and lie sprawling down the steeply wooded hillside. The track is lighter here but even the felling of the trees has not produced a view.
Towards the bottom of the hill the track flattens out, the verges widen and there are fields rather than woods behind the hedgerows. Here the verges are a mass of red and pink campion, bluebells again, and some bright yellow flowers, the flowers themselves very like buttercups but the leaves quite other and the whole plant tall and graceful.
At the end of the track we meet the river, small but brown and swift. Here there is an ocean of wild garlic foaming away through the trees, white flecked with green like retreating surf.
We turn right along the track and just over the plank bridge the mare and her foal are out. They are in the narrow flat field that runs up under the bridge, once a railway track, now lush and green. The foal is steadier on its feet now and curious, coming to the fence to meet us, blowing through his soft nostrils on Ian's fingers. The mare munches stolidly on, less protective than when the foal was newborn.
We leave the field and turn right up the narrow road which runs along the other side of our valley, lower than our land, the road which carries the postvan every morning, bowling along like Postman Pat when seen from the vantage of our house. As we walk our house comes into view over the hedge, white and low against the darkness of the yew trees which protect it, perched on the valley side, tucked back into the hill.
There are still lambs in the fields, running and calling. The streams are small and low, the boggy parts of the path as we climb up towards home easy to negotiate in trainers. Our neighbour at the farm says it is the driest it has been in eighteen years. One long low ditch along the edge of a field has dried up completely at one end but I am pleased to see there is till plenty of water at the other end, teeming with black tadpoles where the frogspawn bubbled in early spring.
In the field which runs alongside our kitchen garden the cows are out, two with calves, black and glossy. Over the stile, home again, the swallows are swooping in at the pigsty door. Just for a moment I look over the wall at the kitchen garden and see it as a stranger might. It looks busy, productive, cared for. The Welsh poppies are flying their delicate orange flowers, the coneflowers are out with their perfect blue whorls and the apple blossom is still clinging to the trees, soon to be gone. The gooseberries are beginning to swell and there are flowers densely white in the strawberry bed. It looks a good place.