Friday, 10 July 2015

The absent breeze

There was a breeze when I left home, but it has dropped by the time I have made the short drive through town, and as I get out of the car the air is noticeably still. Even the topmost leaves on the trees are unruffled, the sweet chestnut weighted down with braids of flowers. The only movement below was the familiar trudge of my footsteps across the car park from car door to office door, and above is the summer-signal swirl of swifts and house martins, like magnetised iron-filings constantly re-aligning themselves with the northern end of the sky. A thin pale moon, waned by the strain of its night’s journey, sits weakly above the rooftops. Nearby a small gathering of insipid clouds imitate the moon’s pale complexion, the way schoolyard bullies whisper and copycat in corners.

Emerging from the shop doorway on route to completing a list of tasks, the sun hits my face with a surprising force, hot and bright. From the scrap of soil at the base of the car park walls bronzed fennel brazenly jostles tall verbena, their yellow and purple flower heads seeking to distract at least a few hoverflies and wasps away from the lime (linden) trees that load the air with sickly sweet aroma, and their stems with strange winged flowers.  A blackbird sensibly keeps to the shadows, his low dart turning my head as he shyly attempts to keep out of my view. I have time to pause just long enough to observe a beak filled with worms and a frantic, exasperated attitude, clear sign that this bird was desperately trying to satisfy the unceasing begging of a brood of chicks, probably hidden somewhere in the nearby garden. Duty calls, and wandering thoughts of birds are replaced by ordered lists, grocery products and errands, at least for the time being until the next moment when a pause is possible.

Later, it is smaller life that catches my attention; the larva of a ladybird, shaken from the seeding grasses by my passing crawls across my knee. I return the tiny black and orange, six-legged dinosaur-like insect to his vegetative kingdom, albeit probably several hundred yards from were he hitched a lift. As my eyes readjust to the longer focus of outdoors, other insect life catches my attention. Soldier beetles march up and down the grass stems. Unidentified beige or brown featherweight moths zigzag through the lower levels, whilst a foot or so above them the butterflies seem to dance with aimless direction. Ringlets, meadows browns, small whites, gatekeepers, small tortoiseshell all make their random entrances and exits. In the corner of the field through which I am lingering, the purple of knapweed punches through the sea of tawny yellowed standing hay. On closer inspection, these flowers too play host to visitors; skippers, minute orange butterflies that fold their wings in a strange fashion, half raised like a tiny paper aeroplane.

The evening is a pleasant one, but the morning’s waking breeze still remains noticeable by its absence. The blue skies have given way to grey, the clouds textured, tousled and fluffed in a way that suggests that there must be some air movement somewhere high in the atmosphere. A flight of house martins over the garden seems to exist in a parallel world, unaffected by the busy lives below them.  They remind me of those little triangular winged summer-marvels that twitter overhead at work. Perhaps even now they are swooping in and out of the eaves of the priory beside the shop and aligning themselves with the northern end of the sky.

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Hello! Thank you for viewing my blogs and profile. I am passionate about the countryside and british wildlife and I hope that this comes through in my blog. I am a nature writer and have been pursuing photography since early teenage years, whilst building a career in conservation. Helping people to reconnect with the natural world is very important to me, whether through direct hands on interaction, education or literature. Please also visit my website, for more information, my current CV, and further examples of writing and photography. You can contact me or keep up to date with new blog posts via Twitter @SophiEcoWild and/or Feedback, comments and audience participation are always welcome! Sophie May Lewis