Friday, 5 February 2010

Subterranean hooves

Slices of sticky earth mask the face of my spade as I jab it down between the lawn and the flower bed, each upheaval removes another wet core of stone, flint, roots, seeds and broken pieces of china, thrown away by people who's lives will never be known by us. Made anonymous by our filthy winter gear as we move stiffly over the damp ground, we have become the soil dwellers, human Blackbirds scratching at the leaf litter with faces shrouded under scarf, fleece and hat.

I like to think that there is a singular voice leveled at the earth's surface, ambient sounds of the garden modulating down into the soil. Bird song, gardeners chatting, garden tools striking the earth, students laughter, the soft footfall of college cats hunting in the undergrowth, even the shouts of scaffolders working nearby, all of them vibrating at the same pitch and stimulating the emergence of fresh green growth.

Primrose flowers receive the first descending scales of the Chaffinch, the first bumble bee bashes the cupped head of a Hellabore, and the unopened Snowdrop shakes in a sudden rush of deflected air, pushed downwards by a pair of displaying Sparrowhawks.

Being so close to the ground and bending over the weeds as they do, we can better feel the changes around us. Just writing about it brings to mind the Indians who climbed down from their horses to press an ear to the ground, listening for the distant rumble of hooves.

In fact as I put my head against the wet ground today, not only do I hear the not so distant rumble of nearby traffic, I also feel the heads of March Daffodils pushing up against the side of my cheek.

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