I threw out a rope and gathered in the frost, the leaf-mulched paths, sunlight, the bumpy clatter of wood-pigeons overhead, ice shattered by cars over puddles, the sound of a golf ball before it flew through the air, Beechin Wood, Pigeon’s Green, Potash Lane, pot-holes, sudden hollows, a short stink of methane at the back of the quarry, the snuffle of a horse behind a hedge, a duck pond, dogs and their walkers, and all kinds of trees that accompanied my steps, my breath all the way out and home again.
Let us praise the small roads, the ones we know by place names not numbers: Paddlesworth Road, Birling Hill, Snodland Road. Let us praise being sure of where we have come from or where we are heading to. And let us praise their raised shoulders of earth crowned with trees, a sudden slap of a red post box on a bend, a memory of quenched thirst sunk into an old stone wall. Let us praise too those who walk, ride and run them, adding their footsteps to the centuries of history, to the stories sitting behind us, and the one we are moving through that never, even if we do, really ends.