Double digits today in March, we are nearly at the year threshold of the new time.
I did a figure of 8 in the Glen this morning, 9-10 am, making 4,595 steps, covering 3.5 km, and my step length, my phone tells me, is s 57 cms. I’m not sure if I trust the maths as my speed it says is 2.3kph – and this doesn’t altogether add up. But I suppose the GPS can’t take into account someone who lingers and spurts the way I do.
So I begin the infinity sign over the double yellow bridges and along the North bank, westwards passing a Mme mallard duck on the path below the gothic quarter. Then a handful of drakes down in the river by the Ceders. I head to the Pencil factory and check in with the pile, heaped up as always but pushed back too now, and so piling over itself, creating a perfume of near and buried notes laid low in the heavy air. The morning is damp and drizzling I feel my wool scarf becoming saturated and my woolly coat building a layer of wet above all the wriggles of air in its folds. Two women are coming towards me, out for a morning stroll I guess before their day begins. I turn and go back in, having no draw to guide me on up to the Blackpool end. So back past the drakes, counting 5 in all, I wonder if the ducks are nesting somewhere already.
The river has a faintly acrid smell, scorched, if something so wet can smell that way. I stop to take some footage of the soft sound of rain on water with the hum of the morning traffic droning on in an arc around. The women pass me purposefully, chatting loudly in one of the softly shshv shsh Eastern European tongues.
At the O’Brien residence I take the South loop, past the laurel entrance and on towards the white stripe. Solitary walkers and their dogs come and go each way and we nod and smile hunched up in the rain. An Italian woman in animated conversation and having not enough sporty clothes on passes energetically by. I film the dead Elm here as it reaches into its own aura among the birdsong and continuously flowing water. The arms set like a dancer describing the space its inhabiting still. I remember the old black and white photographs I was looking at yesterday, of Lucia Joyce, her strange and lovely arm gestures out of kilter with her times.
I don’t take the yellow bridges but keep along the South bank looking out for familiar birds, finding the juvenile heron and a loud moorhen. The old willow in the bayou is coming alive from its very outermost tips where the new shoots pinch the air and separate, the familiar old gesture now bathed in a golden new-willow halo.
I pass into the Fleischmann woods as the East Eu women lap me again, still talking (perhaps it’s just one talking – blond haircut and rosy cheeks). I see the Italian woman has taken a seat on the crumbling wall, chatting incongruously in the drizzle, her voice undulating, drawn out, had she not been holding her phone her arms I’m sure would be making waves in the air. All about her there are small pools of water collecting in the top surface on the wall. I trudge through the mud to the laurel domes, it’s dry inside amongst the bank of litter accumulating there already again. I don’t linger but push on out of the Fleischmann residence and take the right turn over the metal bridge where I spot the E Eu women, Eastward bound along the high pass towards the top field. I wonder now if the are on their way home, then they turn and come back down the steps into the Glen towards me, still sounding their shss sshsvsshsing sounds, their pace has quickened, their arms are bent at the elbows now, propelling them along.
I keep close by the ponds, and as I get to the bridges I sense a sweet scent, fruity and slightly acid – old fashioned jellies, it seems to be coming off the water, or maybe carried on the wind through the rushes. I realise it’s not the first time I’ve got this same sweet scent here.
I cross over and stop by the oak stump, recording the overgrown pathways here, I hear the East Eu women pass behind me and their voices are caught in my video. I imagine now they must be leaving by my gate at Sunview East. Meanwhile comes the Italian woman, still talking and moving fast, maybe homeward bound. As I turn and move up the slope the women are coming back down again, looking flushed now, for more.
A damp worm crosses my path, looking vulnerable and quite drowned.