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  • Writer's pictureMonique Sliedrecht

A Misty Walk

I decided to go out for a walk this morning, to wake myself up and get some fresh air. It felt good to step out despite the misty weather.

The atmosphere was tranquil and the clouds low, the fog cradled by the landscape. The only interruption to the quiet were the birds gathering in the few trees on the site, chattering away. It’s as though they were simply enjoying the stillness of the season and taking time to catch up with the rest of the flock before it all changed.

When I got down to the beach and walked along the southern shores of Freswick Bay, I noticed the starlings lined up along the rooftop of the old mill. They did not seem all that fazed by me, unlike the seagulls settling on the distant rocks that flew away from their rock perches the moment they noticed me approaching.

As I made my way past the fading patches of seagrass and clumps of rotting seaweed and reached the sand, I saw an extensive carpet of algae in front of me, exposed at low tide.

I had my hiking boots on which have some grip, but the rocks were slippy with the wet and lichen, so I reminded myself to take care.

The drizzle was light as I clambered along some of the glistening black surfaces to see what I could see. Just meandering and exploring at low tide is enough for me, and a welcome break from the incessant scrolling or internet searches that can so easily take over mind and soul.

The colours of the seaweeds and rocks in the rainy landscape are striking and follow the course of this new autumn season with their russets, ochres and siennas. New fronds are developing on some of the egg and bladder wracks and at times, as I looked closer, I noticed the bright green of sea lettuce and deep purple dulse.

I crouched down to cut a few ends off of the serrated wrack to use later on, and as I did there was a slight splashing - a small fish eager to get away. I tried to get a closer look by lifting some of the algae from the water, but it managed to scoot through the trickling tidal pools.

When I got up I noticed the almost glassy surface of the bay, reflecting the light grey cloud of sky.

The mist was starting to fall more heavily and the midges were descending on me as well. I took that as my cue to head back. As I did the words from Keat’s poem 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness' came to mind. Such a descriptive line!

I took a few more photos of the remarkable sea plants and their colours and patterns before trudging back to the house, following the indentations of my earlier footprints on the sand.

I've just come across this poem by A E Housman, which evokes a feeling of the end of summer and the beginning of fall. I thought I would share it here, as the official start of autumn approaches. It has a melancholy lilting feel.

XXXIX (from Last Poems)

When summer's end is nighing   And skies at evening cloud, I muse on change and fortune   And all the feats I vowed   When I was young and proud.

The weathercock at sunset   Would lose the slanted ray, And I would climb the beacon   That looked to Wales away   And saw the last of day.

From hill and cloud and heaven   The hues of evening died; Night welled through lane and hollow   And hushed the countryside,   But I had youth and pride.

And I with earth and nightfall   In converse high would stand, Late, till the west was ashen   And darkness hard at hand,   And the eye lost the land.

The year might age, and cloudy   The lessening day might close, But air of other summers   Breathed from beyond the snows,   And I had hope of those.

They came and were and are not   And come no more anew; And all the years and seasons   That ever can ensue   Must now be worse and few.

So here's an end of roaming   On eves when autumn nighs: The ear too fondly listens   For summer's parting sighs,   And then the heart replies.

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