Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Up In The Air And In The Rain

Out in the strawberry fields, the air is thick and sweet. The red berries we squash send scent up high, over our heads into the woods all around. There is no music, just the low babble of the occasional couple mumbling low stories to each other so that the rest of us do not hear. These days I would be thinking of a war or wars or how sad the world is, but at this time I fill with weird and disjointed thoughts, mostly unremembered and unremarkable.

I get to this place by going through one of the passes between the hills, travelling from one world to another by way of rough tarmac roads that have only just covered the mud of the cattle tracks. This is history to my children though for me it seems like just last week. My hands are sticky from the berries and my back bends to an arc of ache that demands hours in the bath. Somewhere in the woods, smoke rises vertically, the summer fire of some remote house whose inhabitants have never left the county. They consider people from over the hill strangers. I imagine them late on this summer night, doors and windows open, no lights, listening to the myriad sounds of their wood, the foxes and their unearthly low screams, the rustle of a thousand unknown critters building their own tracks through the bushes, and the no-sound of the Owls in their missile-glide to ground. And we have no mechanics save the creak of wooden things, turning when needed to support this country life. Here is a wheel mended and another to mend. Here is the wood for the fire stacked up by the chips of previously chopped logs, the fixings for the house, the mended door ready for painting. And here the shadow of the dog asleep but smelling the night to pick out the enemies of man coming for his grafted-for gleanings from the countryside. He smells me as I pass in this dream, a friend requiring no more than a second's eye-opening to check out and then back to black and quiet sleep.

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