As April dawns and warmth returns simple pleasures and moments can be grasped, time to walk alone, coat unfastened, arms wide to the sun, along the roadside frothed with the cream of blackthorn hedge that hides the singing wren, chiffchaff, blackcap and gives its shelter to purple violets hidden low, the crumpled blue of an egg shell hatched, a new life given, a puff of breeze, a downy feather, mislaid by a hen pheasant hurrying, dashing into the glade beyond the meadow of week old lambs dancing.
The day is early, no rush for most folk confined from play, the air is pale, opaque like diluted milk, neither mist nor fog just still, soft, a whiter shade of pale. A perfect morning to share, with a loved one, best friend. Heading westwards below the ash trees, branches winter grey still, turning around to look back a sudden sun winks to lemon drench the fading whiteness, to transform the view into the start of a golden day.
The path is clear, where winter rains filled ditches and drains the woodsman’s work is stark and bare, hedge banks scraped, dredged, scratched with giant diggers teeth, grooves dug into clay and sandstone devoid of flower or leaf , seeming in tune with today’s strange changing, stripped, bleached, sanitised world, waiting, waiting for green birth that heals, that will heal our lives like it heals the field furrows from straight, deep wounds to healthy clean green with crops of rapeseed, clover and wheat.
The sun dried mud along the path, pitted with the slotted tracks of numerous deer on past winter foraging trips leads us into spring, a soft greenness of bud burst and blossom envelopes us and underfoot carpets of last season’s crisp dry leaves part to reveal primrose, stitchwort, violet and windflower, blooms that seem to dance and sigh with newfound pleasure. Wrens sing from the bright green mossy roots of oaks and hawthorn ‘may’ strains in its buds desperate to join in with the sloe bush bloom.
The air is soft and green with sudden spring encouraging us into believing it begins, a new season of growth and fertility only to be harshly interrupted, briefly fooled that the season moves too fast, as suddenly a lingering flock of chattering winter fieldfares gatecrash the serenity with their noisy boisterous dash to be travelling home in their lateness. Like an unexpected punctuation mark as if to burst a growing bubble of hope, bringing doubt into a greening illusion, in this doubtful, untrustworthy time of non-believing, a gloomy news headline after a sunny weather forecast. But it is only a comma, a pause for breath as stream banks become lined with spikes of green, wild garlic leaves scenting the air above cool clear water tinted like milk-less transparent tea and in an instant the harsh beauty of the cold winter birds is gone and the bubble remains intact.
Through a tunnel of blossom froth we emerge to views of blue sky and floating, soaring buzzards above smooth sloping Sussex hills edged below with hedgerows of cream lace stitching the patchwork fields below. All at once our ears detect that classic downland poetry of larks ascending, upwards out of view, way up into uninterrupted blue to drop cascading notes of song, to fall and float and return to rest amongst the daisy may-weed meadow welcome. And the sun still travels across the sky and warms the earth and April will dawn another day.