Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Light and shadows

Downs walking on a bright, very cold Saturday in mid November
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare? -
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
William Henry Davies (1871-1940)
Walking with friends on Saturday, we climbed the hill and stood and stared at the shadows and light drifting across the downs. It was cold but the afternoon turned out to be most magical - the ever exuberant Pippa with her ordinance survey map tucked under her coat; Hilary who is fast becoming one of my dearest friends; and Steve ..... who joined us spontaneously at the last moment and who wove a silver thread through the afternoon by leading us to the green-sand spring at Alton Priors, by demonstrating with his voice the the amazing acoustics inside the little Saxon church and then spurring us to climb up the steep incline to Adam's Grave longbarrow - one of the highest points in the landscape where the views are breathtaking. He seemed to know there would be enormous wild mushrooms growing on the side of the the hill ....... there were, which he picked for his evening meal. That's magic!
Thank you to all three (and Betty and Ruby, the stoical black Labradors who walked with us) for a memorable and enjoyable day that somehow completely transcended the bitter cold.
(Note of caution: unless you really know your wild mushrooms, it is wise to err on the side of caution - if in any doubt don't eat them.).