People say “keep walking” and “walk it off,” which in principle, is a lovely idea. Except, when the pain is an all-day occurrence and feels like a tooth root being tweaked by a dentist, in your leg, permanently; it can be hard to listen to any sound advice. She doesn’t know about the pain. Daddy wincing when he moves is funny – he is playing a game. That recognisable feeling of cabin fever has started to creep up again and the earlier suggestion to go for a walk, seems ever-wiser. Back clicking, face grimacing and leg semi-buckling; it is time to get ready. Mummy calls through, requesting two carrots and a parsnip from the farm shop if we are going that way. We have a mission.
Toddler mittens. Why is it such a fiddle to put them on. Puddle suit? No, she can wrap up in the cosy-toes pram cover, like a fleecy sleeping bag for a pushchair. The pink wooly hat with the white bobble on is non-negotiable though. She usually pulls it off, but seems to welcome its warmth in the cold porch, as if she is preempting the first days of meteorological winter unfurling outside the door. We are both wrapped up for our morning stroll and both happily anticipating some fresh, chill air.
The ancient trader’s lane bisects the southern end of the town boundary and runs along the edge of a small holding. “Neigh neighs?” She asks. Later, we will walk back past the horses. She points to the ageing brickwork of the walled alleyway, reaching out to run her hands along its crumbling red and black bricks; tracing their history. We push past a wooden door, set in the wall and as tradition of this path walk tells, she has to “knock knock” on it, even though no one ever answers. Through the black bike bars at the end, under the brick arch, we head towards the churchyard.
The yews lining the path are foreboding. We watched a BBC news short on the folklore of yews a few weeks before. Their poison, fatal, their connotations with death, poignant. They are beautiful trees though, with deep hewn scaling on their trunks and bright, blood-red berries, warning of danger but equally as alluring. In the churchyard they are also a haven for our local avifauna, acting as a central focus in the brick-filled market square. As we pass under, several birds dart between the trees and she proclaims “bur-ee” at their sudden appearance.
We stop for a moment. Two mistle thrushes are atop the church tower and we crane our heads, giddily, to see them. One flies down into the right hand yew, where it joins up with two song thrushes who are sitting out, framed within small cavernous openings between the higher branches. They softly tick to each other as the mistle thrushes rattle back and forth. Blackbirds chup away tenderly. It’s a soothing sonic chorus of gentle bird calls – fitting for the place of reflection we are walking through. As we walk away, the subtle tseep of two departing redwing, passes over us in farewell. We leave behind the yew full of thrushes.