November 17th – Today was a carbon copy of yesterday, but warmer, and so the mist had risen a little. By the time I got out – again, as dusk fell – the air was clearing and a very quiet darkness settled upon Brownhills. I spun around, enjoying the unusual quiet; up the canal to the old cement works, then up the old railway line to Engine Lane, and back into Brownhills via the Hussey Estate and Holland Park. It’s taken a long time this year, but tonight, I was aware of being in love with the darkness again, or at the least, in love with the things it brings. Solitude, quiet, a new aspect to familiar places.
There’s the dark town, the darkness itself, and the fear of the darkness. At some point in the last 24hours, seasonal lines recrossed and I stopped fighting it. The fear is real: it’s not the menace, or the ghostliness as found here at Coppice Lane, but the fear of never seeing the summer again. I can’t hold on to the year passed,the warm days, long grass and flowers have withered and now, it’s winter. Come Christmas, everything will open out again.
And in the meantime, evenings like this: quiet, dark and beautiful.
September 22nd – I cycled down the spot path in near darkness, and total solitude. As the path opened out near the bend, I realised how eerie this was, and decided to take a picture. I then found I wasn’t alone at all. Just as this long exposure ended, a large male fox wandered out of the scrub on the left, turned to look at me for the briefest of moments, then walked off over the meadow to the canal.
Clearly, even in the quiet dusk of a Clayhanger Common Sunday night, there is important fox business to be done, if only the humans would mind their own bloody business…
March 16th – You ever have one of those days when nothing goes right? Yes, that. I set out to visit a pal and never found them, cycled down to Burntwood to buy something that wasn’t in stock, and then left my bike lock key on the doughnut counter in the supermarket (there’s a lesson in there, somewhere). It’s only Saturday evening, and already this feels like Lloyd Cole’s Lost Weekend.
Crossing the bypass on my empty handed return from Burntwood, I stopped to look down the road towards the M6 Toll. I don’t know why, but I love this view. The distant, windy sweep of cars on the motorway; the endless points of sodium light; the red beacons of the Sutton Masts in the distance. The air was hard and clear, the clouds dramatic and threatening. Apart from the periodic moan of cars beneath my feed, I was alone.
Then I didn’t feel alone anymore. Something was with me. I turned around, and on the bollard at the end of the footway, perched an owl. We made eye contact, but as soon as I went for my camera, he was gone, into the darkening night.
Somehow, it was soothing, reassuring and beautiful.