- words - stories

From city to country, and everything in between.

Our house was built around 1590. Two hundred years later, a brick front was added. Two hundred years and a decade later, we arrive.

The house is a puzzle box, one of those wooden things that you have to fit together just right. It fits us just right. There's room to grow into. There's comfy spots. I write this in December at the kitchen window, back to the stanley stove tik-tok-ing itself cool from brewing some hot coffee, looking at a small court out back. There's a blue bench just across, underneath which k's stacked some wood for the wood stove in the sitting room. A wintered vine twists up a pole in front of it, tendrilling over a pantilled roof. I can see Kitsune, the young siberian cat, staring from the first floor hall window, eyeing the birds in the tree out back hungrily. Next floor down is the window of the ground floor hall, and if i looked straight in Zot, the black and white 11 year old cat going on 1 year, would be curled in a dapple of morning light hitting the right arm of a sofa in the sitting room. Earlier up above a myriad of rooks swarmed over. They'll be back over near sunset. I could be writing comfily in a dozen other places in the house.

Just back in from a sunset stroll, up The Street (that's uphill, we're about halfway to the highest point of the village.), Left down Mill Road at the Priory, past a playground and towards the bypass, built about five years ago. Stopping at an open sky point to look at the colours change. A huge tractor pulling an empty long cart rumbles by, honking before passing the empty playground. A sign after the playground mentions P SSING POINT, the A whitestickered out; as the sign's next to a small horse paddock, you know what vowel you could replace it with.

It's nice to see sunsets again, properly. Lately it's been going on holiday to see them, but I'm so used to the ones back in Aromas, California, above the pajaro valley, watching the late light amber the timbers of the ceiling, and the walnut cupboards of mom's custom-sized kitchen, then gold in the valley, misted with light fog coming in, and rosy fiery sky, the hills around going purple, (and sometimes, like once in a blue moon, there would be a hint of the emerald fire when the sun set over the small nick where we could glimpse the ocean), then the blanket of night, stars sometimes, until the fog snaking in lifted up and engulfed us like in a dream, with echoes from the quarry, railroad, highway and owls and travelling mammals starting the lullaby.

Here, it's grand enough, bringing those memories back. A gull coasts above and away from the setting sun. At first i think it's going in the wrong direction, until i remember that the nearest coast is east of us. It's too chilly, the goal is achieved, so back towards the warmer home, catching up to an old fogey (i suppose it's more polite to call them pensioners) walking a fat black labrador who has directly and properly followed the instructions of the P SSING PLACE.

"Fphfphfphblblblblblbl-phahhhh!" greets the man.

I agree.

He points at the sky, "rd n h sk wrble, frrrst n h mrble".

Yes, it's to be expected, winter is catching up.

"Ar," he concurs, "brrer hn dew mch rain, though."

I nod in silence.

A tour coach approaches, forcing the three of us onto the side of the road. The dog has just been tring to keep eir paws from being muddied in the road as per his walker's encouragement ("st t f h md") but ah well.

The dog's walker used to drive one of those, ("I used to drive one of those, you know.") But that was back when they were fancy, in '47. No TV's, you slept nice up top, though. We part as you do. ("Wll, bk t h frrr" "Hv a gd nt."). Turn onto The Street and the sky is awash in the colours that glow, over my new home and the rest of the village. Pastel gold and ember coal divided in reflection across the windows of the chapel near the house. Next door the sign for the Blue Orchid has become abalone. I'd expected a fade out to carnation pink into grey, but it's like the rest of the sky, so big, has created a second wind, and i don't mind remembering all the one's i've seen before all over again.

I returned home earlier today to spot a man dropping us off a map of where I'd just been.

Yesterday I joined the 'rickinghall ramblers' on a ramble in the redgrave fens, and one of the organizers promised me a map of the public paths in our village. Botesdale and the Rickinghalls are twinned villages, right next to each other (in fact, it's difficult to tell where one starts and the other begins; on The Street it's probably around Maypole Meadow.). The Rickinghalls are sort of a siamese twin, Rickinghall Inferior and Rickinghall Superior. Things are a bit of a jumble, but it all works out all right as far as i can tell.

I realized the things I had to do today were done and itched to get outside, using a few empty bottles for recycling as an excuse.

We'd discovered the recycling center at Rickinghalls' Village Hall on Sunday afternoon, well, evening (the sun is set at 4 pm). Ok, to tell the truth, we didn't find the hall. We walked right up to it, noted the empty lot ("must be a Scout Hall") and the recycling bins, turned around and amboled through a dark graveyard around St. Mary's (the Rickinghall Inferior. Um. Yeah, the church.) A flashlight spun spookily around in the church, and through the arched entrance hall as we went out the front gate. The handler of the flashlight turned out to be the rector of the church, a young man, who revealed that the village hall was around the corner. He gave very specific directions to around the corner. We had been aiming to go to the Christmas Faire there, but had arrived too late. The rector himself had closed up. Oh well, it was a nice walk, and heading back the full moon greeted us in that way that sunsets sometimes do: HELLO! I'M HERE! I'M BIG! AND I'M GRAND! Ooo ahh applause, again please.

So today I decided to see what I could see, using the Inferior church as a either stopping or starting point; ie, if I felt silly walking around without my plastic bag of bottles I could just walk straight home.

There were sunbeams. The sky was those small and large almost bulgy clouds whipping across the sky. Sometimes there was sun, sometimes there wasn't, but still enough blue up there to not make it a grey day. So there were also sunbeams.

Many of the homes that line the east side of The Street back out on a large field, a green field, that sort of grass green that takes the mixture of sunlight and cloud shadow moving over very well. I guess there's a million fields like these in the world, but only some of them are fashion models. These are the local sweethearts.

Um. Yes. Green. Sunbeams. The green bottle bin at the village hall parking lot is overflowed. There are bags and bags of green bottles carefully stacked around it, like some Green Man Bonfire in Preparation. Maybe this is how the grassy fields get so green, they melt up green bottles to the Emerald City in the sky. Or maybe the browns and clears are kept at home, the greens sent away because we already have enough green thank you kindly.

I can't note much about the history of Rickinghall Inferior, as no research or stories have been dug up or told yet; as unearthed, will disperse. It is the main CoE church in the villages: The chapel of ease (hm, which I could also acronym as coe) near us is used about once or twice a month for church related stuff, and RickingHall Superior (um, also called St. Mary's) is in disuse, slowly renovated, except when the bells are rung for certain occasions. I've /heard/ these bells are something to hear, but I haven't heard these bells yet. The most striking aspect of Inferior is the round tower. It's round. It's tall. It's a round tower. The windows are nice. There are gargoyles, and the graveyard is fine for a church graveyard. All around just really fine. Not too big to really explore, but just enough to promise a few mysteries and stories.

I discovered a sign in the yard near the tower which reads: "The churchyard is not a Public Rubbish Tip. Please do not treat it like one. (This heap is for churchyard waste only.)" In the top left corner of the sign is a ClipArt silhouette of a man pushing a filled wheelbarrow towards the reader of the sign. In the top right corner is a ClipArt silhouette of a roundheaded possibly-priest-frock-wearing person cut off at the waist, and pointing a long single action shotgun at the barrow-pushing man. If this were an actual recreation of what would happen if one were to dump rubbish in the churchyard waste area, the firearm wielding priest would have to swing fifteen degrees straight to the left to hit the criminal, but if they were shooting from the church itself towards the heap, they would probably take a chip off the round tower.

There is another sign at the front gate of the church, reading along the lines of "The PVCCC RVD of ST. Mary's feels the necessity to inform you that there are--"and below a Big Red splodge where the Big Red words have run in the rain. We are suitably warned.

A large red rubber ball was lodged down in the drainage ditch in front of the church, caught by ivy, waiting for someone to throw to.

At the front gate of Rickinghall Inferior, no rector to give me directions, so I follow the specific directions back around the corner towards the Village Hall (there is a wooden sign at the street corner pointing in the direction of the hall reading... Village Hall), I'm aiming to somehow get back to my house, but not the way I came. The most appealling seems to be around the back of those admirably green fields, and so it is. I've reached Mill Lane, and rooks spin over tall old trees. I think the only tree I can recognize around here is Oak trees. Really going to have to Bone Up On The Flora, especially since there's a rather large quickly to become Ruinous garden at home. Boning Up On The Fauna would also be a Good Idea, at least to be able to identify the types of birds the cats will be bringing to the fire hearth in supplication for strokes. Fortunately, the next tree /is/ an Oak Tree, so I can stop identifying them.

Maybe it's a cliche, or something already observed much more eloquently in Haiku, but I find the sound of wind in leafy trees to be just like rushing water. I'd noticed this to myself before, but this time, I realised that standing downwind a tree --say, a wintery oak tree in kite flying wind-- the sound of the water is deeper, than standing upwind, which is more like a shallow burbling creek waterfall rather than the rushing tumult flood creek after a rainstorm. (Aside: scientists have proved that leaves scream when you cut them. Nothing about what they sound like when they fall in wind) Now I have yet another thing to look up: poetic references to the wound, er sound, of wind in trees.

Although Mill Lane has a Sign at the start showing that it ends, (a T with a red bar crossing the T) I trusted that there would be some way to get back to the village other than backtracking. One of the ways I used to go for walks was to just go until I can't tell where I was headed back to and panic search until finding my way back and realizing that I'd missed the whole point; so now it's purposely get lost, unless you really shouldn't. Eventually I'd hit something, and the windwatertrees and peeking sunlight and Gigantic sunbeams and emerging bright green fields wasn't all that bad. Cars passed me and we waved to each other. Yes, I'm just walking down the road. Yes, I'm just driving safely by you, nice day for a walk, eh? A wooden sign points down its Public Footpath, very inviting and in the right direction. Green and sunbeams and waves of sunlight. I try to capture it on camera. I see an Oak at a turn that is also photogenic, but put the camera away and turn the corner and half a dozen pheasants flap warbly away. At the other end of the field is a shaggy black and white pony, so I consolate myself with a picture of it, who dutifully looks shaggy and ponyish.

There's a bright spot for a while, it's a marvelous afternoon, not too cold yet, the air is fresh and crisp. The fields stay that right colour green. Trees are remarkably twiggish. The path is not too muddy. There's a choice of paths so I turn right. There's a creek, which sounds like a tree standing in dead wind, and sunlight glows under the brick bridge, pinpointing stray pebbles and bricks in the water. FB loves DC, and DC loves FB, a marker-penned doodle informs me at the center of the bridge. A road appears from the footpath, and I'm by the Methodist church. The way sunlight hits a hedge impresses me, as does the shadows of young tree branches on a brick wall, as does the same on a white wall, and all of a sudden I'm around the corner, where a man is slipping something in my maildrop fifty yards away. It's Ron who was rambling yesterday, doing as he said he would do. We wave as he drives by. Yes, thanks for the map, just walking some more, you see. Yes, I gave you a damn map, now what else do I have to do?

On the map, I see I've just taken exactly one half of an officially suggested walk, starting from the Village Hall (clearly marked, even spelled out), down mill lane and along the footpath to near my front door. Great, now Other People Will Be On My Walk.