April, In Praise of Ditches.
The gods of the weather and the months of the year have conspired to make this week perfect for sitting in ditches. It’s been warm and dry, there’s not too much vegetation and importantly there are no mosquitos yet. It’s easy to find yourself a comfortable spot and steal a glance at these private places before nettles grow to terrifying proportions and bar you for the next six months.
You need to pick your ditch though. Not all ditches are equal. From the deep, steep v’s that drain farmland, wheat right up to the edge, to the hedged and even the tree lined. Some have deep water in them all year, some dry up. Some stink. Some are roomy, some aren’t.
This one however, is a Queen among ditches. Once a stream, it still bears some reminders of it’s noble past. Old alders and warty oaks remember it before it’s demotion eighty years ago when the lakes were dug and the water stolen. Unbothered it trickles through a no-mans-land of lakes and more ditches. It is home to the shy and the retiring and it hides an invisible network of paths. It is as wide and as lovely a ditch as you are likely to find.
And yesterday a blackcap sang in it. A woodpecker emerged from a hole above my head. The hazel linked arms with the oak. The ivy and the moss waltzed over the water and made edible reflections. Dogs mercury was dressed in pure gold. A guelder-rose swam naked with a shoal of tadpoles and twenty pregnant hinds tap-danced over a honeysuckle bridge. The sun couldn’t stop shining and I watched through a brief window as this enchanted place danced before my eyes.