A Way of Noticing

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Longlisted for the Write about Walking A/way competition 2023


What do thorny hedgerows, a narrow concrete track that snakes through
arable fields, over-sized satellite dishes, a solar farm, and crane-scattered skyline
views of Cambridge have in common? They are all features of my regular walk. But
here I observe the flux of nature too. In his poem, Afterwards, Thomas Hardy
imagines himself described as someone who would “notice such things,” referring to
his deep familiarity with his rural surroundings. My walk is an excellent way of
noticing.


It’s summer. Yellowhammers call from hedges and wires at regular intervals
on my route. Babbling swallows, which nest in some nearby stables, pass overhead.
I catch a glimpse of a young hare lolloping across the track ahead of me before
merging into the long grasses of the verge. Either side there are the honey hues of
sun-dried wheat and barley fields, combine-ready. I will miss the colour when the
harvesters have been. But there’s reassurance in the changes of the seasons.


The swallows leave but the redwings and fieldfares arrive to feed on the
hedges’ scarlet fruits. Parties of long-tailed tits entertain with acrobatic appearances.
Winter can bring hoar frosted decoration, dew-defined spider webs or a shimmering
flock of golden plovers rising from a bare field. Then there’s the delight of spotting
the first whitethroats and blackthorn blossom in spring and the yellowhammers
returning to their singing spots. My walk is a way to appreciate the detail and the
transformations. My walk is a way to notice such things.


Sharon Pinner

Sharon Pinner

I am a writer and photographer from Cambridgeshire. My writing has been published in The Pilgrim magazine, The Guardian Readers’ Travel Tips, various anthologies, and I won a short fiction competition in 2022. I also have a poem included on The Dirigible...

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