I recall now the silly spontaneity of it. He could surprise you like that. There was a tower of rock where the cliffs fell into the sea. It looked like one of those Indian totem poles, carved into the shape of a dog standing erect as if on two legs, its arms folded defiantly and its long muzzle pointing out to sea; a stony, sentinel carved by an ancient tribe of Atlantis, to ward of unknown forces that might come across the sea. I hadn’t noticed it until my father posed on the cliff edge. He stood in his old tatty Barbour and wellies, tall and straight, with his arms folded, pipe sticking out of his mouth at a horizontal. His outline cleverly mirrored that of the stone figure exactly.
A day’s dying light. Clouds are burnished deep purple by the last rays of the setting sun. The path stretches out before me, gently climbing higher onto the Downs. I’ll go no further tonight, but stop to lean on a wooden post and gaze across the vale. A large animal in the middle of a harvested corn-field, barely perceptible in the distance, draws my eye, a deer grazing I presume. Beyond, a smudge of forest slowly turns from green to black, becoming more dense and abstract by every passing minute. All is still, the air thick and warm, not a breeze stirs. Inanimate objects seem impossibly real, as if they too were alive, playing their parts; a gate left half-open, misshapen wooden fencing cut from half-worked boughs, leaning as if in a drunken slumber. Is it the failing light that heightens my perceptions… the shifts in perspective my eyes are constantly making – near to far, shallow to deep? They revel in it. So too my ears, pricking past the low rumble of passing aircraft, the distant drone of the motorway, to pick up a dozen different bird calls, nameless to my untrained ear. The noisiest, a conspiracy of crows, are clear to see. There is the sweeter song of a blackbird perhaps.
Excited that my current creative non-fiction work in progress, Beyond Native Landscape, has been granted a Free Read, thanks to Arvon and The Literacy Consultancy!