Tuesday, 1 April 2008
Death Valley, Northumberland
There's a place we go for walks, driving west from Sunderland towards Carlisle. It's a secret place of ours, a gorge with a thundering river, deciduous and evergreen trees, damp ferns, blackberries and raspberries and hazelnut trees, squirrels, pheasants, foxes, voles, ducks, and hundreds of birds. We call it Death Valley, because it's so little visited by creatures who walk upright on two legs that we often see nature at work, and there are no park keepers to clear away evidence of the cycle of life. We love it there, and so do our children, and so did our dog, May, who we miss terribly whenever we visit there. May's four-paw-drive was essential for her scrambling up steep moss-clad slopes, over rocks, and in and out of the river there.
Over the weekend we found ourselves there, in the mizzle and wind. The kids didn't mind the poor weather, wrapped in scarfs and hats and gloves. While they skimmed stones and built lost-causeways in the river I paused to do these studies.
I never knew charcoal changed character so much on a page covered in rain.