Jessica Eve Watkins
17th June 2015
We only plan to stroll for five minutes, into the troll wood and say hello to the dirty forest floor. But as soon as our bare summer thighs stretch forwards we just keep climbing and climbing, up through the precipitous woodland until our lungs ache with heaving breaths. Andy and I lie soggy-backed to a sweet smelling rock face and feel the muggy warmth wrestling under the canopy of doomed ash and gnarled mountain oaks. Our cheeks crack with puffing smiles side by side.
Harper scrambles on ahead like a mountain goat, to take sweet photos of England. We find her in a cave and together we sing Sam Amidon to the introverted bats and moles who’ve made closet homes in this dark hollow. ‘Pretty fair damsel in the garden..’ Andy’s banjo picking fingers hold thin air. Our harmonies reverberate and we make plans to move in.
Dusty champions of the summer forest, we reach the mountain top as the sky breaks heavenly furious and open, and we set sail across the ridge barefoot, fresh mud squiggling between white toes. Horned goats watch our fervour with disapproving, slow shakes of their bearded faces.
Below us, Somerset’s reservoir sparkles and the spaniels run. The rain like tribal drumming beats the surface – forever to the water, forever to the soil, sticks our hair to our cheeks, sends mascara sliding and soothes my grazed knees.
We shelter hopelessly in a hawthorn bush, the black peaty soil so pungent in the wetness, then, succumbing to the storm, hunt for big sticks to hold us steady on the shaky path down. I see the girlfriend of a man I once loved. She looks glamorous rushing past me, in a leopard print coat with dark eyes like Bridgitte Bardot.
We eat chips in the car, steam up the windows and drive the wrong way up a one-way street. The rain melts gullies at the roadside, weighs on the dandelion leaves, wets the clocks and shiny-faced buttercups. I smell England like a basket of flowers, ripe with potential and summer and sex. We pass around a can of coke, though we know it’s bad for our insides and even worse for the world, but in this dripping moment with our jeans and t-shirts steaming and our souls so present, and our limbs stretched from running, and the songs from Andy’s iPhone resolute with tales of blonde girls it just all feels magical and ok.
When we get home, I promise him I’ll write a song about our day in the rain, high up on the cliffs overlooking Cheddar Gorge.