Susie David writes:
A pirate, stuffed parrot on his shoulder takes up position by the public loos. The open air caff gears up for the day. Neon lights flash electric in sunlight. We slip away, through the gate.
I notice the way we enter the Warren is always different to the way we come out. Returning over a hedge worn down to Devon red earth. Desire lines.
The coconut scent of gorse.
Let’s go to the furthermost point of the Warren.
Crow on his tapping stone tries to tap into a snail. A birder strides past. Tripod over one shoulder. On a mission. The birder disturbs the bird. Gives us a sideways glance. Two pigeons get too close to crow. Stay back, no closer. The snail will not come out. Try drowning it in a puddle. Nothing.
We are walking at talking pace but whose talking? The crow falls silent as his mates fly overhead.
We ramble meandering sentences snagging on the fresh blossom of a small tree. No thorns. Not a blackthorn then. A few speculative names dry up. Prospecting rabbit-scrapes break the ground cover of moss, lichen, liverwort and …Warren Crocus! Smaller than a rabbit dropping. Attitude of a garage forecourt lily.
Small blades of grass ranger Steve says aren’t strictly speaking grass. We’re a bit lost.
Bird foot prints, beak prints — dunlin? A trio of them, an almost not-there grey, dribble past us. A sideways glance from one of them (the second today), towards the sun-bathing seal on the shoreline. Dappled grey-green in full sun. Its fat body gouging a wide desire line down the beach marking high tide to low, as it gradually traces water’s descent. She lollops down a bit further. Ready for a quick escape. Wide whiskers fan out sand to sky. Flippers flush with her white under belly. We step closer. She arches backwards to look. Dark eyes, dark nose. Stay back, no closer. Asleep again. Megan and Gabby mimic seal, so light, they barely leave any imprint behind.
Thrill of arriving at the furthermost point but Exmouth is just across the water! Stay back, no closer. Machinery reversing and pneumatic hammer sounds hitting something hard clanks over the water. The tourist boat chugs by loudly announcing — And to our left, beyond those three people — that’s us — what looks like a log, is a seal.
This far out the sand is undisturbed. The sacrilege of our footprints.
Flotsam lines high water mark. We speak of seaweed looking like plastic. Plastic looking like seaweed.
I pull open a tawny owl pellet — Jaw, scapula, rib, fur. A small rodent rearranged.
All is calm for a moment. Skylark only seems to sing when disturbed, so we sit waiting in silence in an auditorium of dunes. Suddenly it sings. We listen to the whole story speechless in case any clues fall into our laps. Dull ache of a plane’s humming ransacks the lark’s pristine sky. This is the problem of ‘metaphorical interference’*. Can we edit it out? Do we want to edit the un-beautiful out?
I think you’ve got to keep going till it’s ordinary.
A vapour trail gets left behind and is wind twisted helter-skelter.
* Thanks Nicholson Baker