Thursday 3rd January


Through the gate & down the ash track into the forest. Past an old orchard  where we blew that  twelve bore hole through a cherrywood stump, we saw four men in black parked where no one should be. Two smoking in the tailgate  of a Ford, hangdog & hooded, I nodded…no response. Suspicious eyes lowered,  lips take a last drag & nicotine fingers flick butts into the mud, sizzle.  A large slobbering dog, the colour of velvet mould, trots towards us, past us,  sniffing the air, searching for some one smaller, the instinct to separate the  weakest from the pack. Drool dangling from a grey lip as it locates it’s prey & grins.
The rare sight of a motorcycle/sidecar, dirty black &  silver, parked in bracken,  where barbed wire protects the new growth from deer.   “Yeah, we ride out as far as Nuremberg, been around all that part of the country” pulling on a black balaclava, eyeing us with suspicion. His lips move as I nod,  but not to me. A German accent, grinning, calls the dogs away, turns up the ash  track, waves without looking back.  A clandestine meeting? Our luck run out? A fifth man wraps something, slipping it onto the passenger seat of the Ford, watching us, grinning.
We turn off the track, through a gate in the fence, putting distance between us,  the silence of the men & their grins.. Into the familiar surroundings of an old oak forest dotted with Ewes, images of cemetery crows, Victorian vicarages,  dog collars, headstones covered in ivy. I always think I’ll find something new  out here, a sculpture, a gingerbread house, an entrance to another world,  but today it’s just this path of mud & leaf rot & then … another of your beautiful  marks that you left for me to find.