Thursday, November 13, 2008
The object of walking is to relax the mind. You should therefore not permit yourself even to think while you walk but divert yourself by the objects surrounding you. Walking is the best possible exercise.
Sunrise. Day off, the last one ahead of a work scramble to meet a deadline. For the first time for aeons the rain has stopped and the sun is shining. I need to get out of the house. Throw on clothes, a parka and wellington boots and head for the fields with the camera. Nothing like photography, with the focus and attention on the present that it demands, to curb - if not stop - obsessive thinking.
The air is cool and fresh, the sky a pale blue. Puffballs of cloud blown along by a gusty south-west wind periodically hide the sun and the drop in temperature at these times is noticeable. The morning light extraordinary, as it so often is. Crows pass overhead, cawing, then drop from the sky onto a newly ploughed field. A faint deep throb of machinery from the small industrial estate hidden behind a barrier of trees can be felt, rather than heard.
No-one else to be seen. It is midweek, after all, and most people are at work.
Just past the railway bridge, a touch of the surreal.
The river flooded recently. My guess: an angler’s chair, temporarily moved to higher ground. A group of mallards are swept downstream by the force of the current and I watch them until they disappear from view. They speed past, imperturbable, bobbing on the surface of the water. I stop and turn around, looking for my visual touchstone, the ridge of the Black Mountains on the western horizon. The wind strengthens, buffets a mass of gold-brown leaves on the oak tree, but they cling on tightly, reluctant to leave their branches.
At the hawthorn bush I turn for home. Under the arches of the bridge, a hint of the macabre. A doll’s leg half buried in the mud, left behind by the floodwater. No sign of the torso.
A lunch meeting in town. Good talk. Then back to prune the ivy that grows up the side of the house. It is starting to grow over the electricity and gas meter boxes and must be cleared. Cut back the lavender and trim the dead fuchsia stalks, raw material galore for the compost heap.
The cat sits in the November sun and makes a show of supervising my efforts, but his heart isn’t in it. After a few minutes, with a twitch of the tail, he wanders back indoors.
I didn’t have high expectations for the day. It surprised me with its perfection.