25 April – Learning the land

It’s amazing just how much you see in a seven mile long stretch
as you ascend to moorland and woods via fields, river and beck.
Here is one single April day’s living, spotting guide,
a gleaming, teeming cornucopia of rich, abundant life.
Sparrows, robins, nuthatches, wrens and a gang of long-tailed tits
play in the river’s trees while I breathe in wild garlic hits.
And ducklings, dippers, goosanders and geese float and squabble along
above hidden shoals that ripple the rush as one rises from the throng.
Celandine and wood anemones carpet the bank with colour
as magnolia-pink leaf buds appear above to restore the canopy’s cover.
A squirrel darts across my path, then is chased by another up high,
just as I see a kite soar by and hear curlew calls pierce the sky.
The blue is busy with action as swallows dance to and fro
while I continue through fields of lambs snoozing and gambling below.
Blackthorn and hawthorn tangle the hedgerows with hazel and bramble too
and tiny scattered stars pepper the green with forget-me-not blue.
Ash, alder, oak, birch, beech – all and more have sheltered my climb,
and I ask myself how on earth can this glorious landscape be mine?
Then I reach the tops and just stop thinking all together
as wild wide vistas of moorland greet me with space and still-black heather.
Even now, I know have seen more than I know how to see,
but I have years to learn the land and name the secrets it shares with me.