Cool light slants into the kitchen. The windows onto the lane are wet with condensation. Looking out, I remember the winter we moved here. I was standing in the same spot catching flakes of a conversation between my small, blond son swinging on the gate and an unfamiliar, elderly neighbour passing with a spaniel and a welcome note. “Nearest beach? If I were you. Path. Stones. Blackberries. Pond. Walk. Invitation. Biscuits.”
Ribbed Wool Cardigan | Crossover Leather Belt | Ribbed Wool Skirt
Her house was warm and carpeted quiet. My son squeezed between the low tabletop and the publications underneath – Flora Britannica, Running Late, Waterlog, a dictionary, Crepuscularo, the parish magazine, a creased OS map. I pressed him with my foot to stop picking his nose while we talked about local walks and our love of Roger Deakin and Richard Mabey. As we left, she took my hand and said, ‘I’m so pleased that we have mutual friends’.
For six years our neighbour and her dog passed daily to take the green lane to the village. She has always walked her own line – a distinct but private presence preferring the cover of hedgerows to tarmac. Occasionally we’d join her circular walk past a towering black poplar and dark burrows, across turf fields and onto the old path between oak, clambering bramble and bindweed, field maple and blackthorn that led to the church. Then over a slumped wall to the village shop, across a broad field to the stream, simmering dung heap, gnarled apple trees and home.
Conversation was easy in stride with one another, unselfconscious and evenly paced. But she was not a chatterer. We shared silence that allowed the landscape to speak. Over a couple of miles, life felt redrawn to manageable scale, one step at a time.