Sunday morning

Words by:
Maxim Griffin
Featured in:
February 2023

January 2023 – mild, squally, turning awful. By Maxim Griffin.

First light and the foxes are getting busy – there are eyes in the thorns and the ditches – the odd call, mating barks, territorial spraying – they’ve been round the back of the swimming pool again – rich pickings from the bins of the café – Reynard, the fox, runs into the cover of the brown fields and shadows – someone’s swaying home up the railway line, three sheets to the wind. The moon’s still up, bright as milk – 8am and the sun hasn’t quite risen – the rain from yesterday yet to soak into the clay – a man with black dogs hurls a gnawed quoit – all the gulls drift in from the sea, grey wings luminous – a sharp wind sings in the telephone lines until the road becomes an aeolian harp. A few trees still up, probably headed for the tip later – the house on the corner smells of sausages – all the windows are thick with condensation, cost of living you see – the woodwork will be knackered by spring.

The middle-aged paperboy takes a shortcut through the barrows with a yellow sack of Mails and rams the supplements home through brass-effect letterboxes – a cyclist in full cyclist apparel adjusts herself before launching – glittering spokes and breath – she’ll be out past the mouth of the Witham in an hour or two – thin, mountainous clouds coming fast from the west and the old boys are already heading to the allotments – Barry has a polytunnel of fierce little peppers and promises to drop round a jarful later – Pete with the girls fills the composter – might have a bonfire in a bit.

Seems as though everyone is taking care of Sunday jobs – routine and ritual – get the papers, enjoy a designated walk – Hubbard’s Hills? Snipe Dales, perhaps – somewhere with trees and water, somewhere to work up an appetite.

Natural beauty
A car park – information signs, arrows – country walks and historical information – five-mile loops for the harder walker, shorter circles for small dogs and kids – there’s a red kite high up, twisting on the warm air – the call, keening and weird, makes everyone look for a few seconds.

A fleet of Ramblers assemble – today’s walk contains aurochs and a pit stop at Spoons on the way back – the cagoules are on, in league with the Y3A, new boots because there’s a sale on at Boyes – jet black Dunlops – they step out into the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, clutching a new Landranger.

A small child rides a glittering bike – her parents fuss behind, arms held out for the inevitable fall – but the young cyclist defies them and scoots on, scattering all before her – she slices through the puddles and sends the oncoming pedestrians into the rough.

The sun makes an appearance illuminating the crowns of horse chestnut and hornbeam – the light comes and goes – quick sky squalling east, a few spits that never really land, vapours turn the spectrum inside out – a rainbow that keeps moving.

Rituals and routines
The dog walkers are mustering – 4x4s of red setters and bronze labs, wax jacket owners, red scarves, flat hats, thumb sticks – a pair of wolfhounds from a medieval painting loll in the boot of a Volvo – a man with five springers heads to the river – they’re steaming ahead through the water to the woods on the far side of the valley. Hardcore dog walkers are territorial – ritual and routine – you’ll see the same people with the same dogs at the same time – Roger and Meg leave the woods at 10 everyday – Big Tim and Benji walk to top path at nine and come back through at three – Big Tim will stop for two pints of Landlord and a bag of crisps before heading home with Benji to cook tea – ritual and routine – if he wasn’t there you’d miss him, you’d worry.

Four hundred jackdaws swirl out of the canopy with laser beam voices against slate grey clouds that are coming on heavy – milky, half-strength sun coming in and out of sight, full disc visible without squinting – colder days ahead, perhaps – the children asked why the images of Christmas are laced with snow when the days are eerie mild – maybe in February lads – they’ve got sledges stacked up outside Yorkshire Trading.

Along a weary metal fence are tied ribbons of remembrance and little padlocks with initials scored into them – love tokens – KB + CB 4EVER – from time to time people scatter ashes by the avenue of beech trees – a fresh dusting with a bunch of flowers – a dog plunges into the river thrashing at a splintered stick – a little boy charges uphill hollering.

A pack of eight-year-olds occupy a clearing with multiple Nerf weapons and foam projectiles – two fathers are trying to marshal the free-for-all – someone’s birthday – battle in the woods followed by burgers at the Scottish restaurant – sounds alright. A boy, red faced with tears, claims an injustice – no one hears or listens so he bazookas a tree stump and returns to the fray – the whoops and wolf shouts echo all over the valley – it’s a good sound. One of the fathers rigs up a tiny portable twig stove – a sack of marshmallows at the ready – this is genius work and it’s not yet 11am on a wet Sunday in January – hot sugar and guns – what’s the worst that could happen?

Cohen changes wellies to shoes as his partner arranges jet black flask coffees – conversation turns to lunch as the drizzle hardens – the small child with the glittering bike skids to a gravelly halt.

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Have you seen this months copy of Lincolnshire Life Magazine? 📖 If not, you may have missed their feature on the Taste of Excellence Awards, including our very own Tristran Russell presenting the Best Farm or Local Shop to this years winner and finalists Doddington Hall and Gardens, Manor Farm Shops and Garden Centre, Leasingham , Nr Sleaford and Leagate Road Farm Shop, congratulations to you all! 🍾 #awardsceremony #awardsnight #magazinefeature ... See MoreSee Less