The return of the native

It’s beautifully clear up here on the hill.

Looking through the trees from Dorset’s highest point and out beyond the Vale, I can see the sea. There is a boat on it. I wonder where it is going.

There used to be a swing here in the trees, with the most glorious view. When you swung out on it, it felt like you were swinging with the world at your feet. But it was only the Marshwood Vale.

With just birdsong and the sound of the wind blowing through the beech leaves, there is a serenity to this landscape that warms me to the core. On secret paths, mystery, magic and a feeling of calm and oneness envelops me.

This is my church. Up here, on my own. Nature in May at its absolute finest.

In the fields below, the farmer has been busy cutting the grass for silage. From the gateway, I gaze down on the village. There is nothing to indicate that it is a community in lockdown. Nothing to indicate that lockdown in some shape or form is happening all over the world. Nothing to indicate that people are dying from a virus for which we have no cure.

I’m not eager to re-enter the real world any time soon. I fear I have gone native. I actually like the solitude, the decrease in traffic on the narrow lanes and aeroplanes up in the sky.

Going out walking with anyone other than the dogs fills me with a palpable dread. What will I have to say? Do I need to say anything at all? I’d much rather be in this gateway, looking into the folds of the landscape and imagining rather than knowing what is going on in other people’s lives.

The introvert part of this extrovert has been having an enjoyable time, thank you. There is not a day that does not go by when I don’t thank my lucky stars that I live here, far from the madding crowd, quietly getting on with a life that was not that different before lockdown was imposed all those weeks ago.

Back in the village, the fishmonger arrives in the square with an array of fresh produce lying out on ice in the back of her van.

In a socially distant queue, I say hello to neighbours I usually only wave to from my window for the one o’clock Sound of Music.

There is fresh crab, wriggling lobster, mackerel, John Dory, Dover Sole, Brill, the noble Gurnard, its medieval head peering out from under the ice, great big sea bass, scallops and squid.

Tonight we will feast like kings and queens, thankful for the bounty provided by our local fishermen and women, hoping that when this all over they will continue to come to our square once a week.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

By Maddie Grigg

Maddie Grigg is the pen name of former local newspaper editor Margery Hookings. Expect reflections on rural life, community, landscape, underdogs, heritage and folklore. And fun.

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