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I have moved to a spot where the town meets the countryside, the last row of houses before nature takes over. The bird’s song is constant and the houses are surrounded by green; ash, cherry, maples, holly among others in the back garden and a nice collection of planted trees decorating the neighbourhood.

The change of location has altered my walking routines. Trips around the lanes on Stone Down replaced with jaunts out on the levels. The willows out there are monsters, pollarded repeatedly to create gnarled hollow stools with sprays of young growth cascading from them like leafy fountains. The pollarded ash trees on the rhyne banks are equally impressive, with oddly shaped limbs, missing innards, and their feet in the water.

From out there, one can look in on the island, see its entirety, pick out its landmarks and even identify individual trees. From a mile away, our copper beech trees are noticeable as bright red beacons amidst the greening. Many trees stand with their open-crowns glowing deep green, light green, sage green, golden green, and all the green’s in between, creating daubs, strokes and dapples that become more defined with each passing day. The remaining gaps are left by mature ash trees, also mature sycamore and the odd non native tree, yet to show us foliage. As the sun arrives and the season matures, these gaps will fill in, the differences in colour will become less visible and the canopy will inflate to its full capacity.


As I sit and watch the rain clouds roll over the island, I take solace and gain patience in the observation of the birds and subsequent translation of these observations into poems and prose. Here’s one about the Skylark:

Hung up above the wind

From his throat falls
Like blossom from the clouds
A delicate song
So constant

That one could mistakenly
Assume that its the lark’s melody
Rather than its wings
That sustains its elevation

Hung, up above the wind.

An immediate halt of chatter
Enhances the illusion further
As the lark collapses into silent free-fall
Like he’s chasing his call
Through the gales
All the way
To the ground.


Regular showers encourage shorter, more spontaneous walks between rain. For the most part, a soaking has been unavoidable. One dousing in particular was well worth the wet.

I headed out past the Tor, over Stone Down in the late afternoon after a day of mixed weather. as I reached the beginning of the decline, I recognised very ominous clouds over the brow to the right and knew I was in for it. I went to turn back, but then reconsidered, I might get less wet if I shelter beneath a tree. The hornbeams halfway down Stone Down provided a suitable spot. These particular hornbeams have grown large boughs over the road, their entire lengths skirted by thick foliage, providing good coverage and allowing very little rain through. It rained, then hailed, then rained again, in buckets for about 10 minutes.

As the storm receded I decided not to head any further out into the wilderness and instead to walk back up Stone Down, I was not dressed for the rain, which was an oversight on my behalf, as I rushed to walk in the gaps. As I arrived at the crest of the hill, I had just walked down, I continued on towards the Tor, before turning back once again, a further spontaneous altering of my route, to turn onto the permissive path to take Paradise lane back towards town.

Recent new growth has created a narrow tunnel, at points allowing the passage of only one soul. The ground itself was soaked and muddy, as I moved on with intent, aiming not to get more wet. As I approached the grand old ash on the right, the hedgerow to the left started to gleam golden, like someone had opened the doorway to a dragon’s hoard.

An auriferous light flooded the green tunnel, and what was once verdant, backed by grey, was now suddenly and completely gilded in gold (the accompanying photo doesn’t do it justice). I marvelled at the spectacle, before it dawned on me, when there’s rain and sunshine, look for rainbows. I turned my head away from the sun, peeking out over the hedge next to the grand old ash, and for sure, there she blew, all seven colours rising up out of the ground like a whale from the ocean, arching up and out and over the poplars, oaks, and ash before splashing back into the land on the opposite side of the road.

I turned on my heels, ducked and wiggled back up the path, arriving into Stone Down Lane as the rainbow completed its arc, appearing in perfect formation over the brimming green lane.  Beaming from ear to ear she proceeded to repeat herself, not once, but twice, creating an epic triple rainbow. I stood in awe of it, in a mellow, shocked state of mind, watching as it hung there in its full regalia for a few minutes, before fading.

I set off once again down the permissive path, hoping to make it back before more of the ominous came to fall. Five minutes of dry was followed once again by deluge as I walked for a mile in the downpour, holding the image of the rainbow in my mind as a reminder of the capacity of nature to alter one’s perspective in an instant.

MW x

A Visual Diary – May 2021


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Matt Witt

Author Matt Witt

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