The Lane is an exercise in writing about the world in order to see it more clearly.
Each day I walk the same short stretch of country road noticing and recording what happens around me. This involves a variety of subjects: plants and the way they change through the seasons; birds, animals and insects that cross my path; the weather, experienced daily and with reference to climate change; and evidence of human intervention, from the history of the surrounding landscape to a scrap of litter. I am not alone when making these observations. My dog is part companion, part distraction, and like me a contributor to the ecology of the lane.
There is nothing particular or distinctive about my chosen quarter of a mile: it could be any number of minor roads around the country. But ordinariness is far from being a disadvantage. Quite the reverse: my central premise or conceit is that the humdrum conceals the remarkable. Because it could be anywhere and to prevent the better-informed from proving me wrong I avoid giving any clues to the location. This involves me in a degree of evasion which feels contrived at times – to me, at least, but hopefully not to you.
This is not conventional nature writing by someone whose encyclopaedic knowledge, airily worn, impresses or irritates the reader. As a town-dweller until recently I began with little existing awareness or expertise and, as will quickly become clear, my attempts to understand or identify things are sometimes frustrated. My hunch is that this will accord with most people’s experience and enable them to identify with my struggles. I also take the liberty of expressing opinions about the natural world and how we relate to it on the grounds that sheer persistence outweighs any lack of authority.
The entries are restricted to 365 words – a not quite arbitrary amount that makes me focus on what is important and keeps the whole thing to a manageable, and with any luck publishable size. With that ambition in mind, and out of a native modesty, I include here only extracts from what has been written so far, on the basis of one entry per month, in the hope that you will one day be able to buy the entire collection. At first I wondered if there would be enough to say; but most mornings find me pushing against the word limit I set myself. The more one looks the more one sees. The more one sees the more curious and involving the world becomes.