Summer’s lease

By Heckington Eau Swallows swoop and skim over the grass when I walk Doris the dog round the village sports field, telling me it’s summer even with a gale blowing and grey sky overhead.

Blue sky later: good for an evening walk. The footpath runs along the bank of Heckington Eau and I look over fields of wheat or peas, stretching like a dark green sea below me. The banks of the drains, so plain in winter, are bursting with grasses, cow parsley, wild flowers.

Many fields have wide verges left uncut for wildlife: crops and grasses make stripes of light/dark green, grey, yellow.

Stripes bring to mind the Isle of Wight, 1970s, bottles filled with layers of coloured Alum Bay sands. Before that, in my grandmother’s house, stripy sands in a bottle were from the Egyptian desert: my teenage summers or my mother’s lost, hot childhood, bottled.

And watery fen or arid desert exist under the same bowl of sky.

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Poor Doris

Doris

Back in Manchester one of my many grumbles was about having to get in the car to walk the dogs. In the nearby local park our badly-behaved lurchers mostly stayed on the lead, so as not to have them run and bark at other dogs, raid rubbish bins, chase cats, kill pigeons and so on.

The field at the end of our road here in Heckington seemed ideal: space for Doris to run around while elderly, three-legged Bob pottered more slowly. But since the dog field became the sheep field, poor Doris is having all her walks on the lead.

Though no spring chicken herself, she has had a whole new lease of life on arriving in the country. The scents of foxes, muntjac deer and other wildlife are obviously exciting beyond anything back in Chorlton. Five times now, in different places, she has sprinted off over several fields and stayed away for ages (see Spot the Dog and No longer the dog field). Too much anxiety, not knowing where she is, if she’s run onto a road or into a farm, so until the sheep field is free again, she’s on the lead.

At least here we have a garden for her to run around in. But still, poor Doris; it’s a dog’s life!