#writephoto: Up the leafy lane

Getting in early with this one for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt. Nor sure what it’s about, but does it matter?

It doesn’t fit with the WIP — signposts weren’t invented then.

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I’m sure this is the place. I remember the path that wound its way first through cultivated farmland then abandoned fields and young woodland. There was perhaps less unworked land then, and the trees were slender saplings. Now nature has marched into the fields, and hazel and birch grow where barley was once sown.

The path winds higher, and trees arch overhead. This I remember too. The crossroads was at the top of this hill where the trees thinned, and in the valley beyond, ordered fields took over again from the abandon. I hold my breath as the lane curves to the crest. Beyond the screen of trees is the sky and below it, the place I have been looking for. Blood pounds in my ears. I stop, take a deep breath and silence falls. Such a small sound, my footsteps, is enough to mask all the tiny sounds of nature in this quiet. I listen and gradually the songs of thrush and robin fill in the gaps, a woodpecker cackles, something scuffles through last year’s leaves.

My breathing returns to normal, I walk the last few yards, forcing myself not to run. Round the oak tree that spreads vaulting boughs across the lane, the sky bursts through the leafy shade. And beneath the sky, the signpost, the crossroads, hands pointing back to the place where I was born, onward to the town that is the hub of this country, right to a farming hamlet, and left…There is no left.

There was once a crossroads here, and now there is only a junction with a lane that leads nowhere. Yet I remember the path that led down into the valley, into the rising sun. At the bottom lay a river that meandered through willows and alders, and no one ever went there. No one. Only the fox after the mallards and moorhens, and the shy deer to drink. No sign points that way now. No path remains through the tall grasses, salsify and ladysmock. I leave the lane, stand at the place where it lay and listen. The sound of running water comes to me. I hear a deer bark, and in the next breath, I hear your happy laughter. My feet move into the swaying green, finding the lost path. Lost to the world, perhaps, but not to me.

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Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

20 thoughts on “#writephoto: Up the leafy lane”

  1. Magical. I was thinking the other day how I needed to stop, to pause, to really hear the birds over the sound of me. Retracing the steps of our lives never brings us to exactly the same place, no matter how we may long for it. (K)

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