Travelling yesterday, up the A303 into Berkshire, I was struck by the great beauty of the countryside as this busy road wound its way through open sweeping chalk hills and clustering woodland. The colours on the trees had begun to change and the planting of hedgerows betrayed the careful thought that had gone into them – as the colours varied from green through gold and red to brown. On the A34 we passed between high banks of solid gorse, dull muted green at this time of year – but when in bloom a breath-taking wall of yellow.
The morning journey was one made in glorious sunshine as the early mist had burnt away. The return journey was made with a dazzling red sun directly in our eyes and the mysterious mist creeping across the wide landscape lending a sense of history and battles fought long ago, to a tract of country so much a part of human existance for so long. By the time we got there, the morning crowds of visitors gaping at Stonehenge had gone. Our evening journey found the place deserted but for a gathering cloud of memories and a few stray sheep.
On we swept as the sun balled into the far horizon and soon we were glad to pull up outside our house. Home, as the last rays fell away and night was upon us.
This morning dawned in thick mist, which lifted as the warm autumnal sun broke through to give us that perfect gift of a stolen summer afternoon. The apples on the tree hang tantalisingly out of reach and the windfalls await their gathering and preparation for the freezer. This last has struggled in recent days as extremes of warmth and chill have caused it to trickle condensation onto the concrete floor of the store.
We choose our clothes each day discarding the choices of the previous day as the temperature dips and rises as dramatically as the jagged red line, marking the fever of global financial turmoil, each day on the BBC tv news. The financial and political experts lick their lips and almost enjoy the drama of a world gone mad. The ‘little people’ – you and I. watch helplessly and finally turn away. There are no simple answers to a complex machine in crisis. Even the dimmest of us knows that when a complicated gadget breaks down and the expert cannot sort it, there is nothing to be done but to endure.
So. I turn to the beauty of the day and think "there are more things in heaven and earth… than are dreamed of in your philosophy" and I lose myself in a loveliness greater than our chaotic man-made crises.
Our swallows, who raised their third and final brood of the year (the first two being predated by a sparrow hawk) set off earlier in the week to make their long journey south. The youngsters had only just left the nest, so I guess they stand little chance. But their courage (if it be that) stands as an encouragement to me. Against any odds stay true and move onwards with calm commitment.
And, on a cold day, wear a scarf.