Alluvia

I should, of course, have known better. When the answer to the question “what weather are the hills predicting?” is “what hills would those be?” the prudent response is to abandon the walk immediately. Yesterday I ignored the still small voice of landscape based weather prediction (which sounds annoyingly like my mum who is, naturally, Mrs Hill) and returned home with not one solitary dry stitch of clothing. It had started with mist tending to smirr, into which the poplars by the small pond were gently dissolving. This escalated to obscuring shrouds of gloomy drizzle and ended in stair rods and clouds of darkest navy blue. I’m not sure why we kept going, but there came a point where the hound and I were so wet all urgency was lost and we positively sauntered back. On the plus side my wellies got a good clean.

Today I ignored all words of caution from the doom mongers of the breakfast contingent and strode confidently out in just a hoodie and gilet (the fleece being in the wash after yesterday’s outing). The Lammermuirs and the Cheviot had reappeared so what could go wrong?. Yes there might still be slivers of ice still scattered on the verge, but the puddles in the lane were full of blue sky, the sun was shining and the clouds were more Magritte than Constable.

At the top of the hill, in a sheltered thicket, a stand of blackthorn was speckled with nubs of greeny white, promising blossom before too long and a few young elders were pushing out quivers of leaves. However, these were very much the advance guard. Elsewhere a slower awakening was in progress. The beech hedges by the road, still wearing their coppery autumn leaves, had a paper thin, exhausted, air. They have been battered into a muted whispers by the winter winds and in gaps where the leaves have been torn away ferociously barbed new stems of wild rose and bramble have begun to twine. Golden lichens and the valiant whin added yellow highlights but the overall impression was muted, with the air of slightly a faded 70s polaroid. Between the fields, where Hawthorn predominates, needle sharp glossy black shoots are only just starting to emerge from last year’s bleached grey stubs and Miss Haversham shawls of bone white goosegrass still shroud the barbed wire stretches, with tiny whorls of sticky green in the long grass below still gathering strength for this year’s ascent.

Everywhere yesterday’s rain was gushing merrily into the field drains and ditches, flowing so quickly that sand ripples were forming in the bottom. Lyra, for once, decided not to leap in and for a brief moment I thought we might be able to eschew the hose. But there were deer and rabbits to chase (if not to catch) and in the inexorable way of these things the hunt passed through the muddiest of fields. We were a disreputable pair by the time we make it to the back lane. I was walking an inch higher than when I started, on clogs of mire. Lyra was “mud sel” . At the corner just before the little wood the road had entirely flooded. We reached this at the same time as a grubby white van travelling somewhat apace. The unsmiling driver showed no sign of slowing. I fixed him with a gimlet stare and stepped smartly into the ditch, hoping the water would not engulf my welly tops. Smugly emerging dry as a bone after the tsunami had passed I notched that up as a victory.

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