Mists make dangerous travel. The air loaded with freezing particles. Attached to fixed objects. A blade of grass. Some garden shrubs. Spreading tufts of crystals. Gigantic specimens of snow-white coral. An elegant fringe. The rime falls. Transparent. In heaps beneath the trees.
Frost. Followed by clear sky. East wind. Early evening. On placing a wet finger on an iron railing. It adhered strongly. The handling of a shovel might have endangered the skin. Morning. Thermometers found rising. Dryness and stillness lessen the impression. Of cold. Brilliant sun.
The River Parrett bursts its banks. Michael and Utte’s house floods. For the first time in ever. We see it in the paper. A picture of the most cheerful man we know. His face a shattered shell. He stands in hip-waders in the kitchen. At he high-water mark on the wall behind him he will not look.
It’s still raining. It has always rained. We are silt dwellers, tide chasers, puddles, floods, mud. The river runs brown topsoil down and out to sea. From a fir erupts a murmur of starlings. By fir I also mean fur. A pelt of needles, hackles raised. Gale force ten at the river mouth. The scale goes up to twelve. After that the sky breaks. The fir comes down and takes two eucalyptus with it.
This morning. A forester shimmies up the copper beach. All day a chainsaw. Trimming branches weather weakened.
Opening huge holes in the blue.
This is a picture of wind.
A walk through the wood. A carpet of bluebells unfolds. Memories of ferns unfurl. A feast of wild garlic keeps pace along the path, and by the south quay, sea beet a plenty. Green shoots through the vineyard, pale before the blaze beyond. The brilliant copper beech. Leaves fresh. Red sequins. Dance in sprite sun.
The weather is green. The river is green. A greener green I’ve never seen. The trees an explosion. We slip in mid-stream. Ride the falling tide. Row until we see green ocean. Wind stiff on the way back. Oar-shaped muscles sprout where wings should be. In the morning, our arms are sore as if we had been trying to fly.
Six swans slide past the south quay fast. Single file silent. White in late sunlight. For weeks now, it has been raining. A wee lurcher looks on longingly. At the low-tide. At the mud flats. Brackish water laps. Green not-land, this salt-grass. A field day, with ducks in. Ears back, she leans against the lead.
Bright chop at Blackness. A splash of sudden sun. A season we've almost forgotten the name for. Voices clatter across the water. Clouds clutter the far corners. Buzzards circle. And sometimes an osprey. The tide turns. The wind against us. Night rows toward shifting shadows. Blister on oar hand. Surrender feels right.
Jacket on sun. Jacket off wind. Jacket on sweat. Jacket off rain. Jacket on stops. And so begins the rumour. A new sound in the leaves. A new surface on the water. And so begin the hydrangeas. Bigger than hearts, smaller than heads. And also the swallows. The sheer volume of them. A tangle of feeding. An acre of air.
Late summer thunder. Heat rising out of nowhere. Elegiac, but we’ll take it. On a long walk. Blackberries in dense bramble. Blackthorn ripening sloe. Black blankets of rooks airing out over the wood. The sun sets as if it means it. A sudden squall-for-all. Puts the wind in window. The shivering way we brace and say autumnal.
A gruesome night. Comes bucketing down. A extra anchor down, lest the bed slip its moorings. In the morning, the noise ends. A dense mist hugs the river bends. Two crews of eight scull past, score the dark water. Through wet light. Bird sound before sight. An arrow of geese rises. A greater-than sign in the sky.
The sound of light rockets through night. Fire works its way down the bank. Red and orange leaves by way of water. Gold teeth glint in the wood, till the wind smashes them. The high wind, the round hills will always make room for. Frost in the long shade. Soft absences. Where in the night, large beasts were sleeping.
A drive through Somerset. Swans dog-ear far corners of rain-drenched fields. We call on Michael and Utte. They give us a bag of English walnuts. Just that. A brown paper bag full of fresh windfall. They’d collected all autumn. Outside, bits of dried grass and soil clinging black. Inside, the whiteness of the wet nut startling.