I just got back from a walk in the wood at the end of our street. The oak leaves that made such a beautifully crisp pavement a couple of months ago are now churned into indistinctness; the walking surface is all puddles and mud. To my left, and very close; a woodpecker, that rapid drilling-knocking, each blow so loud and distinct. Magic.
During the festive season, on a trip back to the Forest of Dean to visit my folks, I took the Lord of Longitude on a walk round some of my teenage haunts. It was muddy there as well, though there were whole swathes of leaf-pavement, still. And I saw the places frequented by my morose, teenage self through new eyes. The scowles and knotted tree roots, the deer between pine trunks in the darkening afternoon, the strange cleft in Jesus Rock … they took on a kind of glamour as my beloved, a born-and-bred Londoner, encountered them.
Here in our E11 terrace, dusk comes on with the roar of aeroplanes. The vixen is back, uttering her triple bark; we might hear her tonight – or the neighbour’s cat, rowing with an interloper. The light is taking a bit less time each day to leave the sky. And what sunsets!
I wish you magic in 2018. I wish you hope and energy and faith. I wish you the certainty that peace and equality are not faint, foolish dreams but possible and near, as startling and sudden as a woodpecker’s rapid beak on the bark of a tree.