It’s a moment I’m reliving – at this moment. Actually it’s from yesterday. The skies east of our ancient university city are heavy and grey. There’s a fierce wind. Mrs Llew and I are driving up a steep narrow road . Patchwork fields spread to the hills, their green and brown in subfusc in this very early twilight. The car windows keep misting. I’ve seen this landscape in every season in recent years. A few bales of straw remain from the now distant harvest.
At the top of the hill, in May, the trees make an arch over the road, a tunnel of green shade. Now the bare boughs let through the rain-heavy sky. ‘It’s beautiful isn’t it?’ I say to Mrs L.
Mrs L, as usual would rather I keep my eyes on the road than look at distant scenes and rhapsodise about them. A field on our left has young oil seed plants. It grows where cereals were planted in recent years. In the distance an old windmill is barely visible at the top of a hill, down which we will soon drive. Here and there, in the fields, the odd bale of straw …
We’ve struggled during the past few hours. This had involved a drive into the city, parking (three hours, no more … or else), a rain-battered walk (with our sticks) to our granddaughter’s school to share in the delights of a lovely, magical, musical Nativity performance. It was all Life. The Christmas celebrated here was genuinely MERRY. It was set in the starlit darkness of the stable and the shepherds’ fields, but any darkness in Mrs L’s and my minds ceased to exist. Completely.
Homewards. Through a winding village. Up the steep hill. Then past a signpost to a world-famous theological college. The lane is bordered by trees. There’s a curiously inviting, even mysterious echo about this turning. I keep meaning to follow this road. What for? I don’t know. Too late for me to study there.
Through another village. Turn right, blinded by headlights and condensation. Phew.
And home. We made it. Mrs L, who although I am at the controls, actually DRIVES the car, was not particularly moved by the poetry of the preceding half hour. Lovely to be back.