It’s a cold, bright start to the day and we’re running through a field, a pack of two, following the tracks of the deer that pass this way at night.
Spring is early this year and pollen coats my girlfriend’s top as we brush through the vivid yellow rape, the first bees of the day buzzing around us.
To run in the countryside is to feel a little wild, a little primitive.
Rapid footfall, rapid breaths, rapid heartbeats – bodily reminders of earlier times when we ran to survive – chasing prey or escaping harm.
Now we’re moving through a golf course – two sweating, panting creatures – out of place amongst the greens and ample parking, the good walks spoiled as Twain may or may not have put it.
And then along the banks of the Shep, as clear as glass, a chalk stream full of trout. We follow the light dappled current downstream from the springs it bubbles out of.
A sharp cry, blue lightning over the water. A kingfisher, a halcyon day.
Skylarks call for mates in the fields around us, blackbirds collect mud for their nests, ducks swim in pairs – it’s breeding time.
We run across the main road, the noise of cars and lorries breaking the spell…
.. but only for a while.
Back by the river, marsh marigolds light up the bank near to where the lambs take a break from jumping and skipping to drink.
Young leaves, green, bright and fresh, bursting all around us.
White blackthorn blossoms drifting like snow on the breeze.
Past the flint church, the pavement’s thin tarmac is being torn open by green shoots – Spring will not be denied.
Off the road onto an old way, overgrown and damp. At the end a meadow, just beginning to dry after a sodden winter – we jump puddles and follow new paths made by feet trying to avoid water.
Back along the river Mel to the playing fields on the edge of the village – children playing football in the sun.