Julian of Norwich and an early May walk

The day of St Julian of Norwich and thoughts of her divine showings; the visions that she held and revealed, that remain ours to ponder so many centuries later.  Her commemoration falls as the pattern of late spring brings the renewal of life to the natural world in all its May glory, whilst scientists warn us that habitat degradation has become an even more serious source of concern, for the sustainable ecosystems that keep life on earth stable, than even climate change.


Helen and I walked on Bank Holiday Monday, with that peaceable feeling of unchanging nature fulfilling its yearly cycle of growth, along the first part of Priest’s Way, then cutting back to the track to California Farm and Quarry.  This track becomes a narrow path skirting the quarry workings before opening onto a field and ultimately to the first of the more or less parallel tracks that form the coastal path.


Swallows were skimming low over the grass across the fields, and the sound and sight of other birds was intermittent, until the constant trill of the sky larks filled the air once the sea was in sight and its bordering slopes of open heathland reached.  The flowers at our feet, from bright blue and white to the purple of early orchids, with patches of brilliant cowslips to the pink thrift of Anvil Point, drew our eyes to the low fluttering of wall brown butterflies, and the tiny dark - almost black - weak flight of an early small blue.  How do these things live, so fragile, so beautiful, in the midst of humanity’s destructive habits?  With great difficulty, so evidence suggests.


From the lighthouse to the castle many more people were walking.  Drawn by the sunshine and a day free of work and school, there was much chat and laughter; photos, and the inevitable scrolling of touch-screen phone, but the looking-out-to-sea and earnest search for dolphin or peregrine were also apparent and people staring, maybe unfocused into the middle distance, as what they saw merged with the sparkling light on the water and the gentle breeze of the spring day.  


Coffee, and back through the cowslip field, past the notices reminding us of sky larks nesting on the ground, the heavy scent of hawthorn blossom, the chattering of goldfinches and the like, fingers trailing in the new growth this lovely May day, brought all our senses to work.  Home, lunch and the garden was calling….


John Mann