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  • Matthew Slater

Late Evening, Clunton

Clunton, Shropshire, 4 April, 9.15pm

The spring wind is cool, ering on the side of cold. Clouds still reflect the distant flow of western daylight as a very slight lighter skyline above the western hills. Starlight has a faint presence when their light permeates an overcast sky. The land and hills of the valley are black, their form silhouetted against a fractionally lighter sky.

The river mumbles nearby, but other sounds are absent as the wind shrouds the landscape in waves of sound as it sweeps though the nearby alders and the woods of the hills. A sea of rustling twigs and branches with squeaks and groans of bough against bough. The wooded hillsides could be the sea, with waves resonating around cliffs. The only leaves rustling are those of ivy on the other side of the stream where a trellis of mature alder lifts a tangle of evergreen high into the canopy. Perhaps, roosting in here, are the pigeons I see throughout the day.

Lights: orange, and flickering through hedge and tree hang in a featureless blackness, devoid of shape and form; the pattern of fields in between only a memory of daytime observation.

The darkness takes us indoors, our senses are not designed to functiin well in a moonless, lightless world. Where all sounds are muffled by the wind, unseen dangers could lurk before our feet and the cold chills our bones with a fear of insecurity and the imagination.

I try again to look up to see the stars but light from the lodge is too bright. I walk out to the drive and I am swamped with security lights detecting my presence and have to wait for them to switch off one by one. There is nothing to see above me - the cloud cover obscures the cosmos.

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