Sunday, October 22, 2017

morning in somerset

All through the night the van had been stealthily clawed by branches. The first time I heard that soft skreeking sound, back in the summer, I nearly jumped out of my skin; but now that I was back I found it soothing. It was quite deliberate to wedge the van up among the trees behind the billboard at one end of the lay-by; I didn't want to be parked where a half-asleep HGV driver might cannon into me. As I sat in the darkness drinking hot chocolate, I realized there were other advantages.  A regular  commerce of vehicles proceeded through the night, and I was as far away as possible from that. More than once, large convoys pulled in, blazoned with flashing orange lights and signs saying "Exceptional Load", men in high viz gear piled out for a piss and a smoke, stood around chatting and larking about. The reflective bands around their trouser legs made them look like a circus troupe, and their high vehicles might, to my wandering imagination, be funfair attractions or carnival floats but were more likely something to do with civil engineering. Evidently this generously-sized lay-by had been remarked by others as well as myself. Midnight was the preferred time for making these awkward multi-vehicle flits through the small, winding A-Roads of rural Somerset. At last I put up the sunshield for extra privacy (ruefully thinking of warmer nights in the south), and turned in with the Life of Buonaparte on my smartphone.

I got up in the morning and examined the screecher. It had leathery leaves on thick knobbly twigs, and in fact it was this crab-apple with streaked fruit. The apples dangled on long thin black stalks (very unlike domestic apples). The taste was sharp but sweet and delicious.


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