Neither the sun, nor I, had long been up when – tiring of my usual waking lethargy – I resolved to set out and recover the fitness I’d unwittingly begun to tackle during my recent visit to strip wallpaper during a week in Ireland.
Good move – for it was utterly beautiful out there. The dawning sun polished the workshop roof to bronze; insects and birds set about their business, unaffected by the intermittent human arrivals at the business estate in the lane. Together, this early morning orchestra began to emit a low hum, as the day awoke to new life and productivity.
As a small girl walking – a metre nearer the ground – I was on a level with the roadside verges. The enormous variety of leaf shapes! The miniature ‘forest’ I was certain was inhabited by miniature beasts, kings and queens, knights and their ladies, and goblins and fairies rushing around in a miniature kingdom. I couldn’t – and still can’t, get my head around the amazing microcosmic world of nature to be seen up close.
Grasses and clover, honeysuckle, wild gooseberries, brambles, hawthorn, beech, ash, alder, oak – just some of the names without which no legend could have been written.
Forests of ferns – concealing caves of stone – under vast green umbrellas in the woodland.
Here, in this world of wonder, I drank in the sights and sounds, and gobbled up the information about plant and animal life passed on by patient adults. I sank willingly, and deeply, into a lifelong love affair. One that directs and informs almost every move I make.
In this virgin territory, creatively, were set the seeds of an obsession with the patterns nature paints on it’s fertile ground.
Observing the kingdoms in roadside verges led to hedgerow housing, castles of drystone walling, factories of sandy ants, and garden boundaries where giant cats lay in wait for armies of tiny, unsuspecting field mice.
Highways and byways – pathways connecting all of life. Including the neural network in the mind of a child.
I’ve been lucky to have company with which to visit new landscapes recently – where I’ve felt like a child again; enraptured by the wonder of new discoveries – and by the fun of seeing things through another’s eyes.
It must be obvious that I look forward to seeing all this through the eyes of my grandchildren too.