WITH ALWYN GAZE
It has often been commented upon that I spend a lot of my time walking in and around the village over the years, without route nor destination, and that I must know every inch of every mile! That well may be, but as I walk amongst our lanes and through our pastures I am often presented with a view not recognised, or scene unfolding amongst my fellow man that forces me to reappraise my assumed knowledge. I get to hear fragments of conversations interposed between the sounds of everyday life and the sounds of the countryside that lead me to think about how we ‘read’ the world around us. We naturally filter out that with does not readily concern us, focussing only on our immediate interests or the task in hand.
I have been asked to share my thoughts and observations on this website and am very pleased to do so.
Monday 25 April. 6.30am. From the mill to Murrow’s Drift.
It’s very cold, more like winter this morning, but bright. There’s vapour above the mill pond and the water is still and calm until a mother duck leads her twelve little ducklings across to the east bank, unzipping the surface with a slow and effortless motion.
Across Main Street and onto Murrow’s Drift, there are signs that families are beginning to stir. I imagine sleepy children rubbing their eyes and surly teenagers retreating under quilts whilst exasperated parents bang on bedroom doors. Of coffee brewing and teapots steeping, the smells of toast and morning breath. While it’s quiet at the houses on the left, it is really quite noisy to the right, past School Lane where the trees are dense and the avian day has been well underway for hours. The birdsong is almost as dense as the foliage. Are the birds filtering out just those that relate to them or do they have to listen hard to pick out what they can?
As the field opens up on the right a sharp wind makes me fasten up the top button of my coat and I stop for a while at the gate. It is a well documented fact that Norfolk fields are flat and I am reminded of our closeness and relationship to the mighty Cambridgeshire Fens. Many folk from ‘upcountry’ have commented that the flat landscape around these parts is dull; an endless expanse of open space with no view beyond the treeline of the horizon. If that is our deficit, then we surely have surfeit of sky. On many occasions I’ve heard visitors remark “you’ve got big skies around here,” and I guess to them it really does seem that way.
Over in the east it’s that icy crystal blue that makes everything look sharp and intense. High definition. Out west there is a long unbroken band of cumulus cloud, almost painfully white on top but nursing a very bruised underside that suggests that today may not remain bright for much longer.
It smells good, damp and earthy, just like it should. The crows are holding forth somewhere near but out of sight. Dry and earthy sounds.
A womans voice shouts “Don’t forget your lunch!” and a moment later a car door slams and an engine starts. I don’t hear the crows anymore.