In the quiet of this long, light evening there was birdsong. It came from a dense patch of hawthorn and wild roses, said in local legend to cover a disused nuclear bunker. I could hear it as I stood and looked out across a great arc of skies to the darkening hills. A neighbour, returning from his allotment with a little black dog greeted me. ‘I love these long evenings’, I said to him. ‘It’s the longest day’, he reminded me.
Every year I am grateful that I’ve lived to see another May morning in the season of Easter, and I trace the weeks that Christ walked the earth after his Resurrection, till Ascension Day, then Whitsun and Trinity Sunday: a lovely time in the Northern hemisphere. Perhaps I’m too attached to these lengthening days. The darkness of December is not alleviated much for me by the artificial lights of the Christmas season.
But tonight as I watched the sunset-lit clouds in the midsummer evening light, my perception seemed to enlarge into the huge space I observed. Wider and wider.
And I noted, in detail, the clumps of yarrow on the bypass verge, and the stray wheat ears, grown from last year, and the vast fields of ripening oilseed rape, and stray corn poppies.
And as I leant on my stick, lost in the middle of all that, my mood was broken by a car horn. ‘Parp parp’, it sounded and I saw a driver with a shaven head grinning, or rather, leering at me, to the amusement of his passenger.
That’s happened before. There’s something about an old man, alone with his thoughts, which is a challenge to some people. I do not associate this behaviour with my generation, for there is a hint and echo of Nazi thuggery in it.
I understand though. No doubt the driver was a bubbling kettle of emotions and unfulfilled urges. He wasn’t that young but that’s youth for you. I include the young Llew in some of that heedlessness.
This elderly gent thought of raising two fingers in the direction of the fleeting car’s rear mirror.
He didn’t: not from fear. It would have lowered the moral tone.