Garden of Love

1 March. The weather in Trumpland, according to the New York Times, had turned to “sunshine & civility” during his address to the two houses of Congress. Here it didn’t get above 6 degrees in the afternoon. Cloudy and irritable: at least, I was. In fact, following rivers through the north eastern burbs, dressed head to toe in black and grey, I felt I bore the same relation to the earth as a passing cloud.

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When Ponders End flour mill was first built 150 years ago it might produce a thousand tons a year – a week’s output today, it says on their website. I’m not sure of the stats, but the sewage plant b. 1877 on the site of Cuckoo Hill Farm, has equally upscaled. The diggers are in now putting shit to shine for another century and a half.

It was the sort of walk which truth to tell is not really enjoyed in real time: too smelly, too noisy, too this that. Earth seem’d a desert I was bound to traverse, but somehow, safe at home, fed and bathed, returns to your imagination as something nourishing, if not quite beautiful.

By flowery spots, and verdant lanes, skirting Hornsey …

It sparked many memories of walks. Familiar faces. The Lea was my major escape route in Stokey days. I loved looking across to the sheep grazing the reservoir banks. Today I felt a special kind of kinship with Salmon’s Brook which is named after a local landowner. I have an ancestor called Salomons. She’ll be feeding the Lea with treated sewage long after I and mine are brown bread. I enjoyed thumbing through diaries and the like when I got home – but more than that picking up Charles Lamb again and finding another kind of kinship.

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