The weather forecast doesn’t look too jolly for the next five days so at short notice we decided on a pleasant eleven mile walk in the hills around Hartington.
After recent rains, the River Dove was unusually fast-flowing and muddy brown so no herons to be seen. All we saw was a knackered-looking pigeon pecking around in the grass where we’d stopped for a brief tea break. It didn’t look at all healthy, having made no attempt to flutter off as my heavy boots clumped down only inches away.
As we sat by the river, a black dog came up, sniffed around us as they do then spotted the pigeon and made a grab at it. The poor old pigeon hardly made a token effort at survival. It just drooped there in the dog’s jaws as if resigned to the indignity of such an end.
The dog soon lost interest, dropped its bundle of feathers by the river and bounded off, the owners having by this time wandered onto the scene.
A gaggle of adults and children in wellies, they gave no sign of having noticed their dog’s exploit with the pigeon. Which was dead by then – I checked. I’d been wondering if I’d have to finish it off with a rock. The pigeon – not the dog.
We’d set off late, having had to stock up with Eccles cakes first. A serious matter and not on any account to be shirked. By late afternoon, the pigeon episode miles behind us we headed due west, dusk not far off.
There is something magical about being up in the hills, striding into the setting sun. Hard to explain the feeling, but for some reason I was reminded of these words.
And as the tree waved its plume in the night-wind, and the bird swayed on the moving twig, and the gas-lamp burned meekly and patiently beyond, I seemed to catch in these simple things a glimpse of the secret meaning of human existence, such as one gets sometimes, startlingly, in a mood of idle receptiveness.
Arnold Bennett – Sacred and Profane Love