• Rosemary Lawrey

10 - Squelch and squeak

Like an amateur detective, there I was, photographing and sketching boot and bicycle prints in the mud. I love tracks and trails. Not only do they make wonderful tread designs, they are a comforting sign of company, and sometimes the only signal that I’m going in the right direction, or at least on a path to somewhere. But it wasn’t my detective antics that surprised one little girl today. As we walked past one another, I heard her say “Mummy, that lady shouldn’t be walking in the mud!” Her mum said “It’s all right, she’s wearing her walking boots so she can do”. In fact, we’re being encouraged by conservationists to wear the right shoes, walk straight through the mud and “savour the squelch”. Walkers giving one another a wide berth as we try to social distance on country paths, or simply our reluctance to walk through the squelchy stuff have not only eroded footpaths, but are a threat to the wildflowers trying to push up their spring shoots along the verges. It was nearly dusk as I came towards the end of my mud trail, and a flock of birds – I thought starlings but you might be able to tell me differently – had alighted together in the hedge. I stood in a muddy puddle and listened to their squeaking song. Later, when I played back the recording I made of them, apart from the voices of the seagulls, I thought I also caught the first syllable of a cuckoo’s call, but I’m told it’s far too early...

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