18 March

Rain cloud, windblown and blotchy, covers the sky. A weak shower begins to fall then thinks better of it. The crow pretending to fly overhead is really being swept by a broom.
On turning into the Spinney I am met by the same dumper truck I saw the other day – or at least the driver is the same, a fair-haired bandit with his face hidden behind a scarf. There are lumps of red clay on the lane – so compacted that when I kick one towards the bank it does not break. At first this action feels public-spirited, but instinct is selfish at heart and it is me I have imagined being peppered with clods spat by passing cars. Or is it playfulness I have regressed to, the small boy making a ball out of anything?

A few minutes later the truck returns preceded by another just like it. Their buckets are full of soil, fertile-looking and claggy. I watch them disappear round the kink in the lane then track their progress along the B-road by means of the amber lights flashing. They turn into the meadow beyond the Paddy and bump over the uneven ground, the lead driver standing at the wheel, legs braced, the small boy in me awake again and enthralled. My eyes run ahead of them and see a spoil heap already head-high at which, one by one, the trucks lurch to a halt and upend their loads. There is a building site not far away. Perhaps the landowner is being paid to receive the waste or has need of it for some earthwork he is planning. Once again I am struck by the clarity of the light and how near this little drama seems to me.

There is something mechanical going on in Tall Tree Orchard as well, making a mindless, grinding sort of noise. Despite the absence of leaves I cannot see what it is, the density of branches surprising. Perhaps they have started to spray, although there is a pyramid of gravel or clinker behind the hedge which may be connected. This is the real sign of spring, not flowers appearing or longer days but farmers with their artillery.