Monday, 2 March 2009

Are you coming for the ride?




It's nine thirty on a breezy Monday morning and I am off to the Feed Merchants for the farmer. Fancy coming with me? You do? Good. Well hop into the passenger seat and we'll be off.


The lane looks so "Winter" - mud on the verge, lank grass, the last stems of dead cow parsley tottering in the stiff breeze, swags of brown ash keys hanging heavily in the trees - oh look there's a big clump of snowdrops - I guess someone has dumped their garden rubbish there a few years ago and this is the result. There they sit, jiggling their heads in the breeze, by the side of the beck bridge - a perfect spot. I couldn't have chosen it better myself.
Let's stop and have a chat to this gardener, working on the hedge round his garden. I want to ask him how it is he has such a wealth of primroses in his hedge. What is the secret of his success? He tells me that he leaves them to flower and develop the seed heads; then when the heads are really dry he strims the lot and thus scatters the seed everywhere. I shall try that this year in an effort to spread my primroses and cowslips along the hedge.
Off we go again and suddenly - there they are - the first real sign of Spring - a field of ewes and new born lambs belonging to John and Sue, farming neighbours. I manage to take one photograph before the mums call the kids to order.
There is a very pale sky and a watery sun today. Among the ploughed fields patches of water lie like mirrors, reflecting the pale sky. In the stubble field cock pheasants glean between the stalks, safe for another year now that the shooting season is over.
We'll stop in this lay-by on the brow of the hill and have a look around us. Ahead lies the fell, with its covering of dark heather. To our right, on a mound, sits Middleham Castle - the sun catching the ruins. What a sight it must have been in all its glory in Richard III's day. I wonder if he ever stood on this spot and looked at his favourite home.
Hundreds of gulls rise, as one, from the winter wheat as we watch - their raucous calls breaking the silence.
Off we go again, down the hill, over the Ure and on to the main road. Blackbirds scratch on the verges, flinging sods of grass to one side in their search for worms. A little further on, a black rabbit hops nonchallantly along the hedgerow - I wonder, is it an escaped pet rabbit?
It is ten minutes to ten as we pass by the church and then by the house where the late Richard Whiteley (of Countdown fame) used to live. Two jackdaws guard one of the chimneys - they see it as a potential nest site I expect.
Further along two rooks swoop purposefully across the road in front of us, each carrying a twig in its beak. Looks as though nest-building has begun in earnest. Suddenly, without warning, a huge clump of purple crocus appear on the side of the road, their petals open in the sun to reveal deep orange stamens. Do you remember boiled sweets called "Grandmother's pincushions" - well these crocus are the same silky, shiny purple.
A coot crosses the road, taking long, serious strides, its green legs and feet looking totally unsuitable for walking on roads. Sorry, but whenever I see a coot I think of Tennyson's "Brook". I was born a stone's throw from his birthplace, so he has to be my favourite poet - and I love "Brook":-


I come from haunt of coot and hern,
To make a sudden sally -
To sparkle out among the fern
And bicker down the valley." There - that's got that off my chest!


All around us, on the hills, the heather is being burnt; plumes of smoke waft about in the air and drift along in the breeze. The faint, smoky smell reaches us in the car.
In the fields farmers are muck-spreading, the manure heaps steaming fiercely as the bucket digs into the pile - the pungent smell enters our nostrils a few hundred yards further on! Other farmers are harrowing and one chap is rolling beautiful green stripes the length of his meadow.
We turn off the road and down the lane and over the little beck - orange willow branches mark the becks course as far as the eye can see. In the field of winter wheat and gaggle of Canada geese are grazing. We pull up outside the door of the Feed Merchant. Our journey of ten miles or so is done. Hope you've enjoyed the ride. Come again - I like a bit of company.

22 comments:

Janice Thomson said...

I'd travel anywhere with you Weaver. Love your descriptions - they give such a clear sense of your country and your lifestyle especially for one who will probably never get to travel there. Thanks for the ride :)

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Next time I come, I'll bring along a picnic lunch and we can stop to watch the lambs awhile.

Sal said...

Lovely to come on the little ride with you..thanks!! ;-)

Leenie said...

Thanks for the ride. I miss traveling to the feed store. Although there were no castles on the way to ours, unless you count grain elevators. Your writing certainly brings the trip alive. I can almost smell the wet soil and the new leaves.

HelenMHunt said...

That's so evocative. Thanks for giving us the chance to take the journey with you.

Pat and Abe said...

Excellent post. I enjoyed reading it and then began to wonder if this was who I thought it was. And it was. I like the words very much.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Thank you for the ride, Weaver, I so enjoyed it! My experience of our own countryside here will be enriched now from having read the description of yours!

Crafty Green Poet said...

lovely ride thank you! I hope that rabbit is okay, it probably is an escaped pet, sometimes they do seem to integrate into a warren...

Reader Wil said...

You have a talent to describe your surroundings so vividly that I feel as if I am really with you in the fields. Thank you for the ride! Thank you for your visit and kind words!

Heather said...

That was wonderful Weaver - all those lovely country sights, sounds and smells, even the muck spreading. I think very young lambs are so delightful. You should get a bus, there are so many of us who will want to come next time too.

jinksy said...

That's the best value ten mile ride I've ever taken - awash with priceless observations. x

acornmoon said...

Thanks for the lift and a breathe of fresh country air.I have tried to grow cowslips but have never had any luck.

I enjoyed reading your post about China, I would have been like you also with my nose pressed up against the window. Malcolm's artwork is very accomplished and atmospheric.

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

Your ability to observe the countryside is wonderful but I hope you also had your eyes on the road!!

I was driving around today and although I see things, I know they don't register in the way they do for you!

Gramma Ann said...

I enjoyed my little trip with you to town. And when you wrote...the manure heaps steaming....the pungent smell enters our nostrils...being an old farm girl, I think I actually could smell that pungent smell. tee hee!!

Coastcard said...

The name escapes me (will have to see if I can find a soul 'who knows') but I feel sure we have a special name in these parts of South Wales for this time of year when the heather and gorse are burned. Is the 'hern' a hen, I wonder?

Mary Sharpe said...

I thought for a moment you were inviting the lamb in the picture for a ride!

Cowslips . . . I love primroses. If I had a hedgerow bank, I wouldn't be able to grow enough of them . . . but cowslips - I found them disappointing when I came across them first and wonder if they are valued more because they are getting rare than for their looks.

What do you think?

Mary Sharpe
HUGH AND CAMELLIA

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks Janice - you are always welcome to come along.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Pamela - bring hot soup - it is cold here again.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Caroline - I don't know of a word for heather-burning round here - but shall ask around when we are out to dinner next week with a load of shooting locals!
I think the hern is a heron.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Mary - I think you need to see cowslips ina mass - their beautiful very pale yellow colour is tremendous then - the scent is wonderful.

The Weaver of Grass said...

To everyone else - so glad you enjoyed the ride = we'll have a mini bus next time. And yes, Derrick, I did keep my eyes on the road!!

thousandflower said...

That lamb is amazingly spotted. What breed? I know Jacobs are spotted but most that I have seen have bigger spots. I am curious. Our Cotswolds have spots on their faces and are usually grey on their backs.