All day, a hot day threatens rain. Sky is cast solid in dulled silver. Next door’s bear shaped dog escapes across the fields. Next door here is across the valley, so I lug both hounds over with me to return the miscreant. The last days of rain have rebogged the turf, I tread carefully on the roots of the whip-bladed marsh grass and return with both boots. Dog has mud gloves to mid leg, gets just enough purchase to leap the gate. Longwools flounce up the path, turn to peer down at us. They appear to be made out of old frayed rope, a line of comic puppets.
Taller than the top of my head, the finely spiked Scottish thistles have rotund buds, purple dotted, they follow you like eyeballs. Taller than all the thistles, magnificent foxgloves make hypnotic sway. Wild roses have sparser flowers then the domestic kind; I catch one, to feel the cool softness of it on hot skin. Can’t help looking to see if the thistles are following us.
Because it’s hot, because of the ponderous sky, because it’s quicker, I drive into town, forgetting about the three way traffic lights: become part of a lengthy metal queue. And there, at the footlights of a low garden wall, I am absorbed in a performance; a dramatic flare of red poppy, petals thick as crumpled velvet.