Hard to believe we are into late May, the gales this morning were wild, and it’s still blustery in the evening with a lively wind whipping up the spirits and drying off the clothes between showers. I take my notebook and stumpiest pencil in my pocket. I mean to make some sketches to put down on paper a real way of compressing 3 and 4 dimensional space into 2 dimensions, and aim for a trustworthy account for the geography of place in the telling of one to another. So my first map is facing North
On my windswept wanders I am taken aback by the fast response to the old freshly-painted red and newly-broken wooden bench, another transformation has happened, in its place there is a handsome and sober blue one, updated in metal, a younger sibling to the recent arrivals of yellow and red… my shorthand mapping for benches has till now been two aitches joined by two lines- h-h (the italics can lean either way) but that sign was for the old PROSTO metal bench style. Our new metal benches are much more lyrical in form, flamboyant even, their structure is held together by a treble clef, the slats of the benches, at seat and spine are the lines that hold the notes E~G~B~D~F musical notes, carrying only raindrops today. The ~F~A~C~E~ notes, those spaces in between, show the blood red drops of the previous dweller…. here now, as I write I see what happens with co-ordinates across time and space – the benches have taken the limelight – this new bench has surfaced, surfaced before its time, before its time in the telling of my walk today. This new-blue bench would have taken the space in the left top corner of my first map, had I included it, or even known it was there. If you were to sit on this new-blue-bench in mid-May-time, your view of the path I habitually use (as drawn on my first map) would be utterly masked by opulent and darkening foliage.
This bench-space is the place I have encountered W of the Hatch, it’s from this place he sits and imagines the Pyramids of Egypt in the sunlit angles of the gable walls across the valley, at my entry point of Sunview East. Perhaps it is for him that ‘the hand of god’ has moved so quickly (again) to reinstall a restful seat.
To continue with my mapping I go across the yellow bridges to view the path of my descent from the other side. Looking South this time, my back to the grassy knoll and not facing it, when I map it I draw it looming large at the bottom of the page, an imagined birds-eye view, the buckled bench is beneath it, and beyond and to the right is the path leading West-along, to the grove where the Sycamore ‘Y tree’, the Ash with its hooking branches, and the Chestnut (here I draw a leaf) dwell. I also fill in the fanning Hazel which I know to be further along the path, beyond the New Blue Bench. PROSTO Bench is out of sight, East-er-ways and beyond the empty pedestal and the Rowan tree at bottom left.
I loop twice to the Fleischmanns, first to draw a map … I aim to untangle the paths that confuse me in their twinings, over and under with the river. My drawing is sketchy and I make many moves to show the water and I leave spaces for the paths, and as I write “PATH” in those gaps I hear the Spanish word for peace, Paz. I am at the Z, that busy place where paths collide: the bottom of the Zigzag: Sycamores marking the fork into the Fleischmanns, and flights of steps, Up and Down, I match up pillars and walls to get my bearings, The Big Sycamore has taken on an interlocking serpentine form in all of my mappings.
On the next round of the loop I return to visit the Willow’s Hemlock by the metal bridge, as I had just today spotted another clump of it at The Hatch – each place has a strong pull to the water’s edge. The water by the Alder on the other side of the metal bridge eddies and turns, pooling at its curve
Further West and downstream the water level at The Hatch rises dramatically, and today it is rolling smoothly brown, taking its turn at the hemlock
and gushing into noisy golden braids on its descent on the bend and onward under the path, beneath my feet making its way to the Alder, where it will bend again, on the other side.
The wind scatters new and tender leaves across the ground, leaf litter on the road. On the road to the hatch a Hawthorn in its May blossom holds court with the Pi, that old wooden support of the old wooden bridge. I find the hemlock waving from a clump behind the hatch wall, bending to the water, the river in its endless-ever-fluctuating motion. The Pencil Factory has been pushed right back and the Spurge makes its line to the Bracken ring, petals collect in stripes along the verge and sprinkle stars in the tarmac, the wind sifts through the Rough hawk’s-beard and rattles the Buddleia thicket. The Clover and Bird’s foot trefoil closer to the ground, bend gently, the buttercups are thinning to gossamer transparency and, along the ridge, I look across and down at the dressed up Hawthorn, here on the heath the Poplar saplings march away from their parents, up the slope to The Oak, and here too I bear witness to the stillness of the leafless trees among the Poplars, unmoved by the wind that bends and rushes through the flapping leaves.
At the triangle, no-mans-land, corner of the former Engineer’s place, an Elder pushes its lush way forth, dramatically confidently, symmetrically, and the corkscrew unfurling of the Hogweed flower chimes in, the Field Elm is all bristling too, and further on in the trajectory across the pond to the grassy knoll, a purple dog Rose.
Later on, by the Swamp cypresses, the cross-section of the tree stump’s circumference makes geometry with the stone circle on the far bank, the interventions of humans joining latently in with the cacophony all about the Glen.