Ruislip Golf Course near here has been taken over by HS2 for the last few years and is a wonderful place to walk the dogs. They are investigating the archaeology and I found some flints when they filled in one of the trenches a couple of years ago. I had a chance to show them to the archaeologist recently and they are Mesolithic, 10,000 years old, from when our ancestors returned to Britain after the ice age.
It is very special to walk down the medieval lane that leads to the golf course and then know you are walking in the footsteps of people who used this area so long ago. They would have been dependent on the land and the weather, whereas for me it is a place of beauty and all I gather are blackberries or sloes. We have so much now that would not even have been a dream back then, but still I would love to experience the relationship, belonging and awe they must have felt when they walked here.
Breathing the green
I have been surrounded by concrete for too long, trapped in a town with no gardens, no green. I am making my escape through the low stone cottages and out onto the hills nibbled close by rabbits and sheep. I can feel the grass under my feet cushioning the rock, the thin soil. It bounces with me, scraggy and ill-kempt, browning at the edges but to me it is life. I breathe it in, careless green vistas, but it is not enough. I sit and let the breeze that blows the few tattered stalks that lift above the green blow in me. We are both thin and brown and bare. Breathing; breezing. There are a few small thistles and everywhere is carpeted with droppings. I lie down carefully and absorb the blue sky. The white delight of cloud like a message overhead fades back into the blue as I gaze. I want the sky to soak my front and the earth to soak my back but I still feel brick bound and tight. Breathing; lying; skying.
How can I download more of the field into my fancy, of nature into the parched reaches of soul? Walk the way, noticing, naturing. There is an old boundary that crosses the field, a ridge of history that now has no fence just occasional stunted trees. They are hawthorn, small but tight with leaf, thorn and berry. The trunk is an artist’s dream, split into caves and crevasses, turning and twisting in a slow dance.
Nearby there are rabbit warrens, a dozen entrances burrowed into the earth. When I walk the hill I am not just standing on rock and soil, I am standing on a honey comb of homes. Are they in there, furry in the dark? Do they know I’m here, vibrating their ceiling with my step? My need for nature is like a thirst, as essential to life as water and sunshine. I have breathed in green. I can go back to buildings.