Last night we came close to a frost, the moon huge, the sky clean, the air tingling with cold. Approaching the lane I see the sheep huddled for warmth around one of the trees in Mistletoe Orchard. It looks like a meeting, to plan the day’s rumination perhaps. Dew sparkles in the early light. A buzzard lands on a telegraph pole then lifts off again, the interval so short it resembles a bounce. And here too the apples have begun to drop. I heard the same thing in the Cloves recently, the impact softened by grass but still resounding, the thud momentous somehow if not exactly Newtonian.
The bales have gone from the Paddy and from its counterpart across the B-road on Flanders Hill. I miss them, without quite knowing why. Perhaps it is that for a short time they make something strange of the world, objects explicable in origin but alien in form with their massive, incongruous geometry. I am not sure de Chirico ever painted a rural scene but that is what they call to mind, a landscape made dream-like and anomalous.
It is also noticeable that the grass is already pushing through the stubble, a green shadow on its fair complexion. Last year beet was grown, causing me to misread the flamboyant leaves of dock in the verges. Will the field revert to pasture in this phase of the rotation or be ploughed for another crop to be sown? Either way there is a sense of things coming full circle which, apart from its seasonal connotations, makes me aware of my own year turning. Two thirds of the way into this diary or vigil – I am still not sure what to call it – the lane is beginning to repeat itself. Take the ivy whose berries I noted in January and which took weeks to disperse. The flower heads, posies of yellow florets with green bracts, have given birth to the next wave of fruit, each embryo with a nose cone like the spike on a helmet. Nature repels me sometimes with its indifference to suffering, its ruthless numbers game; but this resurgence of life, whatever form it takes, is poignant and irrepressible.