An unexpected journey.
Unless you've spent the past week down a mine shaft, you would be hard pressed to have missed the unseasonally warm weather. And judging by the number of photos on social media, everyone in the country has been out enjoying the sunshine.
Even the countryside itself has been out without a coat, and being so early in the year we get to enjoy a rarely seen view of our land before it adopts its lush verdant summer jacket.
But what does that different viewpoint reveal? Let’s take a walk and find out.
Stairway to heaven?
As I follow the sign that says footpath I am guided away from the busy world and plunged into a calming twilight created by the towering trees on either side of me.
Off to the right, a pale shape catches my eye. I gaze through the tangle of leafless branches to make out what's watching me. Is it a fox, or a deer? No. I can’t see any tail, or ears, or eyes, but the handles give it away and make identification easy. A bag for life, its mouth agape like some great arboreal basking shark, hangs in the undergrowth patiently waiting to claim the life of any unsuspecting passer-by that should make its way inside.
Ahead of me, a small litter of Carling cans sit motionless in the grass hoping that I haven’t seen them. I walk on and see the rest of the flock straggling some way away from the main group. They've probably been playing with the sporty guys, the Red Bull cans that hang out further down the path.
Beside the footpath, some wild garlic shoots are making their first appearance and hinting at the lush green carpet that they will form over the next few weeks. Distributed among the green are splashes of yellow in the form of primroses, buttercups and McDonalds logos. A Tesco cooked chicken wrapper attempts to disguise itself by rolling in the leaf litter, but it just isn't leafy enough. Try as it might, it doesn’t blend in and the high gloss of the plastic gives it away.
High in a hedge and safe from prying eyes and predators, an empty water bottle has taken up residence where it will one day make a convenient resting place for a dead mouse.
Road to hell!
Further down the path, the pendulous fruits of a dog poo tree sway gently in the breeze as they ripen in the warmth of the sun. Stepping sideways to avoid the head height bundles, I see a flash of red. Is that a butterfly catching the warmth of the spring sunshine? No. The beautiful red, white, and black is the camouflage pattern of a Twiglets wrapper.
A walk on the wild side.
Taking a walk at this time of year can come as a bit of a shock. Not only because we don’t expect such wonderful weather but because it reveals a different countryside, one of sadness and truth. It appears our stairway to heaven has become the road to hell. These days, if you hear a bustle in your hedgerow, the chances are it isn't a shrew or a wren, but more likely a crisp packet blowing in the wind.
Nature is a wonderful thing, and once it has had time to do its makeup and put its knickers on it will look stunning. But just because the rot is hidden under a skirt of foliage it doesn’t mean it’s not there. It is still very much there and it is constantly being added to, so next spring the layer of crap will be deeper.
Blue sky thinking.
The wonderful weekend brought us countless social media posts of people out enjoying the beautiful weather, so people are clearly looking around when they go out. They just happen to be looking in the wrong direction. The next time you feel compelled to post a picture to tell the world of your beautiful life on a beautiful day, just lower your viewpoint a bit and look around you. The sky may be blue, but don't be surprised if you are standing in a shit pit.
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