April, From Beginning To End.
As we walked between fields of sheep, our game was to find the newest lamb. Just as we turned towards the fell a second twin slithered out of it’s mother, a messy miracle, all wet ears and legs, within a minute almost standing. We marvelled at the extraordinary triumph of birth. These crumpled new beginnings all clean and unwritten. And we left them with our hopes and luck for the future, trying to forget the lamb last night, with it’s eyes pecked out by crows.
Half way down, through the larch wood we spied the main footpath to the lake, alive with a procession of weekend walkers. Not wanting to join them we sat and watched. First an enormous wolf hound, scuffing his feet next to a bent old man. Next, a matching middle aged couple with a springy pair of fluffy golden retrievers. Then, someone running with a wet collie. And finally a young family with two terrier puppies, making slow progress and a lot of noise. The seven ages of man with a sort of evolutionary trail of dogs.
We crossed the river at the head of the lake and skirted round to the bottom of Flass Wood. This ancient oak woodland, once coppiced for industrial charcoal burning but now left to it’s own devices is swollen with moss. Two or three foot thick in places it surges over boulders and up tree trunks. New ferns, older than time, uncoiling, wood sorrel, leaves still folded and a bright white skeleton of…… of what? A snake? Just a perfect curved back bone and a head. The size of the head thankfully ruled out a snake. Eventually we found the pelvis, the shoulder blades, ribs and legs. It was the mangled remains of a fox. Curled up, asleep forever on it’s soft bed of moss.
We had started with creation, seen evolution, and come to the end of time in just three hours.