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Saturday 16 August 2008

Green food for the soul

Summer Landscape, June 2008 , by Susie Mallett

Flying over the English Channel for the fifth time in two months is more than I usually manage in a whole year. Yes I am off to another funeral and also home to bury my Mum's ashes, but also to see my family and some friends, do some work in my Dad's enormous garden and hopefully find some time to relax. I expect there won't be enough days and as usual I will run out of time to do all I have planned.

As I look out of the plane and spot ships through the broken cloud I anticipate once again that first glimpse of the green and pleasant land which is my "home", and as usual the excitement is just as great. The descent is announced, land approaches and with it dense cloud cover. Will this mean that once again that I will be denied the green view from the air which would warm the cockles of my heart?

All I see is a fluffy whiteness. Thank goodness for my visual memory and my vivid imagination. My eyes can penetrate the cloud cover and I visualise the cricket pitches, hear the sound of the clunk of the ball as it hits willow, I imagine I see the fields full of sheep, cows and horses, the miles of green hedgerows the meandering rivers, the manor houses and the rows of terrace houses.

Then a surprise, just as we hit the coastline the clouds clear and there is the green and pleasant land! Just a tantalising glimpse and more cloud. There are the occasional clear patches that allow me to see the irregular-shaped fields and the green trees, so different to the landscape that I left behind in Germany with its dark coniferous greens. The sky eventually clears and even with so many of the wheat fields ploughed and brown, or still golden ready for harvesting, the overall impression is still green, summer-green, deciduous-tree green. I have never had such a glorious view.

To add to the wonder as we bank to circle waiting to land a rainbow comes into view , one stack lower and the rainbow is even clearer, the greens even greener, swimming pools bluer, the streets start to show signs of life and the straw bales get rounder. The trees and hedgerows become reminiscent of model-railway layouts, the mansions in their grounds appear more and more stately, and there is the end of the rainbow and the moon to boot.

This is the view I was anticipating in May when I returned for the wedding. I feel like I have received a wonderful present. Food for my soul to make this trip home easier, to make the soul lighter. Now more details are appearing in my view, horses are grazing in the last of the evening sunshine, people with their dogs strolling along the country lanes, football pitches and tennis courts in action and the rivers and streams meander through the woods. The brakes are applied as the tarmac appears without warning.

Home again and such a welcoming vista!

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