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I walk through my little village almost daily, generally at the other end of the dog lead from Bruce. We head for quiet lanes and field margins. Our pace is dictated by his mood or mine. Occasionally he will forego smelling every blade of grass and stone wall voluntarily; other times require persuasion by one means or another.
Pace is also dictated by terrain. I can encourage him to keep up a swift trot if we are on a tarred road but field margins and grassy tracks are another matter. So many sniffs to be carried out…
Now that I think about it, I suppose pace also varies with weather conditions. Neither of us likes driving rain much, oddly enough, so that calls for a speedy trip with eyes half closed and head bent.
Regular traversing of familiar routes is both a comfort to me and a visual and aural diary of the changing season. I can stride on automatic pilot while my busy brain considers creative dilemmas, new product possibilities, or what to cook for supper. Equally I can drift along listening to birdsong, tractors at work, the occasional sheep or squawking rooster.
May is a joy as each day the hedgerows grow – bright new leaves, crab apple blossom and the creamy whites and soft pinks on the hawthorns. Grasses thick and lush in the verges, the occasional cowslip already. A few swallows may wheel around our heads, feeding on the wing. If we pass the churchyard I can admire the bluebells and primroses there, spreading slowly year on year.
And walks on clear still evenings are magical. To be out in the gloaming as wild ducks are settling down and bats are revving up. To watch the light change across the brightest rapeseed fields. To catch the lingering scent of gorse bushes warmed by a little sun. I imagine a fox heading out on a food foray, visualise their silent path through the growing crops.
Back down the main street and nearly home, past a few gardens whose blooms overflow their walls, past blossom floating down from the cherry trees along the village green.
This month will be over too soon.