Thursday, 2 August 2018

Abstract Landscape Painter.  Rural Dweller.  Lover of Modernist Art and Design.

2 August

One of the benefits of walking early on a summer morning is the potential for an encounter with wildlife.

We are heading downhill, the dew still on the coarse grass.  I am admiring the pale blue of chicory flowers, newly opened in the field to my right, when suddenly there is a sharp tug on the lead.  Millie has picked up a scent and is earnest to pursue it.

She is beginning to pull determinedly now and, being attached by a running lead around my waist, I have little option but to pick up the pace!  I half stumble, half jog my way down the rough track until she comes to a sudden halt.  I manage not to somersault over her (just) and regaining my composure, follow her gaze.  There, to our left, through a hedgerow opening into an adjacent field, are two roe deer.  A male and a female, facing each other, but with their heads now turned towards us.  They can be no more than fifteen metres away.  Backlit by the rising sun, which is peering over the upslope behind them, they are all chestnut glossiness with glowing edges.

We stare at each other for a moment, before Millie’s excited whine sends them to seek cover.  A running roe deer is the most elegant of creatures.  They appear to be weightless – leaping in long, low arcs, hardly touching the surface of the earth before alighting again. They are gone in the blink of an eye. We do not see them again, although I continue to look as we make our way along the path.

The author Diana Athill, writing in her 97th year, describes the experience of sitting and thinking in old age.  Rather than a pitiable state, she finds that it is surprisingly enjoyable – discovering, when her mind relaxes, that events from her past float into her consciousness.  Instead of the lovers and achievements that she expects to focus on, she finds that it is the most beautiful places and things that she has experienced that return to her.   What gives her pleasure in her last years is her rumination on the paintings and views that she has stopped and stared at.  They have been stored away unknowingly, to be paraded before her again and fully enjoyed once more.

All text & images ©2018 Carol Saunderson