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  • Writer's pictureCrone

Come: walk with me

We set out along the Brampton Valley Way from the Hanging Houghton car park. I can see that a lot of small branches have fallen - maybe more if the bigger pieces have been cleared away.

We head right across the fields to Blueberry Lodge. Up a hill to a place where I used to stop with the dog. I'd do yoga and he'd sniff about or rest in the shade. Down the other side, past another yoga spot. And then I see this.

Ah-ha! I think. Who has been eating saplings? I see that bark has been torn off and easily find more evidence.

I've seen deer here - red, I think. And there are muntjacs everywhere!

I feel like a tracker and a wildlife expert until I see this.

I realise that all the tearing and breaking was caused by a hedge-cutter. The farmer wanted to keep the scrub back. Nothing more.

So I head in to the place where the dog and I tried to work out what creatures used the river crossing. And I stay there for a while and think of how the dog and I used to explore. How if I were interested in something, the dog would be curious too and vice versa. How we shared attention.

I look at the river and can't really tell who crosses it.

Or if anyone lives in the holes.

But I like how it looked - the water, the wood, the light.

To cheer myself up, I pull ivy from an old tree. I don't know what short of tree. Not an oak, though, but it is big.

When I get to Blueberry Lodge I see that none of the trees around the house have ivy on them, whereas all the wood trees do. And I think about how some trees get special protection and others don't. How some plants are tended and cared for and cossetted and others are left to just battle it out on their own. I think of domestic dogs and wild wolves. And I think about how we divide what we care for and what we don't.

The swans are not in the pond. Nor are the herons.

Then I come to a field where a while back the Blueberry Lodge people or the estate management people had put up these little posts.

And I see that now they are planting things to make a hedge.

And, of course, protecting what they have planted.

I speak to the contractors doing the work and they tell me it is for a hedge with hawthorn in the back row and then, in the front row, a mixture: alder, rose, laburnum and birch. I ask if they will lay the hawthorn when it grew, but the men don't know. The Blueberry Lodge people did lay the hawthorn hedge that abuts their horse paddock.

Funny, isn't it, how in one place the hawthorn's getting slashed by a machine and in another tenderly planted by three pairs of human hands?

Of course, if they don't lay the hedge, it will be like this.

This provides some cover of course but not as much as a laid hedge and it's no good for livestock.

Which is why, before all this land was arable, they had to fence it.

I go across a very muddy and slippery field to the gravel track. Here, I have to gird my loins. The track feels so long after the fields. I see larks and crows. A family of three and one of four and I think how I have not been able to spend quality time with CD for a couple of days. One day he was flighty in the storm and the next he was not there.

On the way back to the car I meet a nice lady with two small dogs. I cuddle the dogs and speak to the lady and feel a little less alone.

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