Trees On The River Slopes
Stride out, into the bite of the wind.
One dot of snow for every ten steps.
On this dry ground the ice is limited: it finds some puddles and makes crystals out of mud. Sun beams over all of it, but the wind has blown the warmth away. Over the stream, over the stile, over the field where the old barn crumbles out the last of its days and the white peaks of Dartmoor edge the view. Dog and me and the sun and the wind and the rare snow make tracks all the way to the river and through the woods.
On the slopes of the Tamar, encroached by the growth of the woods that once fed furnaces, there are the remnants of industry: a post for a chain bridge, dug back areas of rock, two old quarries, drainage tunnels, cart tracks, lime kilns. Across the river is the straight wall where a train ran on a broad gauge track.
We follow a drainage ditch down to the bank where the beached tree has been partly cleared. It is cut exactly right for me to sit on, a pile of sticks at my side, to throw for Dog, who has healthy bracing swims to fetch them back. Sunlight rides on the water surface. Snow falls erratic as butterfly flight paths. I dangle my legs from the cut tree until cold prompts movement.
Climb up to the top of the woods: a good warming angle on that slope.
Under my boot soles, old trunks crumble. Something about these laid down leviathans: walking on them is like trespassing, is like treading in an elephants' graveyard. They hold some kind of sentience, these old trunks, even as they crumble, since they are always part of the earth, they lose less for changing function.
The wind lifts itself into a howl. I think I hear an animal cry, but I am mistaken. It is the low groan of a wavering tree. Snowfall thickens: fractals of ice catch on my coat, and the trees sing.