Tap Dance in the Sun

The wind is from the east but it is so warm that I remove my cardigan as I turn towards home and the late afternoon sun. It’s been a lovely day, so golden that I felt compelled to go out into it. Recently, aching bones and a fading confidence in ‘setting out’ has kept me close to my front door.

As I walked ( was the stick supporting me or was I supporting my stick?) I saw again how far one can travel by going almost nowhere. It was the verges and hedgerows not a quarter of a mile from my home that involved me. A weed, as someone said, is a plant which grows where you don’t want it. I was happy to see and closely examine: yarrow, in flower; red campion, dandelions, autumn hawkbit, cow parsley – some of it fresh, juicy growth and some turning to maroon – elderberries, a few hawthorn berries.

 Towards the range of misty hills the row of willows which stretches for two or three miles along a brook was beginning to show its autumn colours. I bent to study the clover plants with their fat pink blooms and I remembered my father improvising a tap dance on a patch of lino and singing:

‘I’m looking over a four-leaf clover That I overlooked before. One leaf is sunshine, the second is rain Third is the roses that grow in the lane …’

The fourth leaf in the song was the singer’s beloved. Perhaps my father was singing for my mother. He went into the army, and came home safely four and a half years later.

Overhead a propeller-driven light aircraft droned by. It was definitely ‘one of ours’ – no intermittent thump of a Luftwaffe bomber.

As I trod the verge towards home the petrol exhaust from a passing van made me think of the harbour near my parents’s retirement bungalow.

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