[There’s a full moon over Sunset
Got our feet in perfect stride
And we walk in perfect meter
While we hold our smiles inside
And we hold our smiles inside
Like we’re holding back the tide
And we stride in perfect meter
Like the sun won’t ever rise] – J. Hince/A. Mosshart, Ash & Ice, 2016.
“By the moon, by the tide, by whatever you like, I’m just so easily led” purred Alison Mosshart. (Impossible Tracks, Ash & Ice, 2016.) She was bang on the money there. And she would be, she’s a woman; she knows the rhythms of the earth and sky like we all do. If ever there was a Goddess on earth, it’s her. ❤
It is July 16th 2019 and today is a pivotal moment in the year. It’s a certain wonderful someone’s birthday; the first birthday we’ve not been a couple. But it coincides with a universal spectacle that we’re sharing, just a few miles apart at different sides of Surrey.. A partial lunar eclipse. We’re apart, united in the universe by the moon. How she brings us together, does Luna. Last night I lay under the stars on the downs, in the light of the golden orb. Tonight I was back to bask in the penumbra, alone in my Astra. Connected – smartphone beside me – but alone in my little capsule. Quizzing back and forth on the best vantage point, hype was building across the internet. And the viewpoints were busy with rowdy young stoners, the last of the evening’s golfers and sleepy commuters cotching in their corsas. Nouveau-riche types hared along the roads, and the air was heavy and close. Luna is a powerful chick.
Look Southeast, Jones-girl. Go higher up. Try Tattenham Corner.
I duly rumbled away in a modest cloud of gravel-smoke and turned east, looking out towards Tadworth. As I neared the eponymous corner, I gasped and congratulated the sky in pure reverence. The Moon was bloody gorgeous; glowing a sultry pink-orange. The sky was her dusky blue backdrop, and the glow was as loud as an orgasm. My god, what a sight. What a perfect end to a somewhat fractious day.
I’d spent the bulk of the evening not far down the road, back on the arable treasure-lands of Langley Vale. I’d neglected the place since last month, when I paid a casual visit to the corn gromwell site to check on the number of plants there. A good trawl through Surrey’s best kept secret oasis was long overdue, and when better than the golden height of Summer? I enjoyed so many glorious, lonely hours and miles there last year in the long heatwave. My walking boots were ruined by knife-like sterile brome, which travelled as far as Anglesey with me like a stubborn rash. Even several dunkings in the Irish sea chasing Lion’s manes and compasses couldn’t shift that stuff. I think the boots eventually clapped out way before the last head of brome left the fabric. (Today, they’re festering in a shoebox in the car, like a pair of sorry-arses. I can’t abandon them, it would be like dumping a faithful old hound by the M5 – which isn’t even a good motorway.)
A year on, to the present; it was definitely a “fuck it” kind of day. Catching wind of two rare gems making an appearance in those beautiful margins, I floored it down to the village armed with reliable gen. I needed my arable flora fix. Venus’ Looking glass is like hen’s teeth, or the flash of a quail’s eye in a barley field. She is a fleeting flower, dainty and discreet, shy and sweet. I’ve never seen her, though I’ve scoured the arable chalk screes and margins of Surrey, Sussex and Wiltshire for her for many hours. She’s an annual, but delicate – she lives on a knife edge in a modern, intensified world; she needs the right level of disturbance or she shies from view. Plough the field too deeply – or indeed, too shallow – and she may decide to vanish for years. She might rebel, flash a cheeky Victory-fingers at you, popping up by a roadside like a brazen hitch-hiker, far away from her chalky roots. She’s fleetingly glimpsed and she’s coveted, like all the most compelling beauties. Maybe that’s why I like her so much – do I want to emulate her charm and guile? Alas, she evaded me once again today, in spite of grid references, Google maps, GPS, and all the goodwill and gen I could be spoonfed. (Thank you lovely local botanists by the way – you’re diamonds) The day’s tour wasnt in vain entirely, however. With the hawk-like vision of Steve Gale, I managed to wrap my eyes around another absolute wonder; the cutely named Weasel’s snout. A pretty pink annual (like Venus), it does indeed remind me of a mustelid’s nose, and it’s another shy and vanishing relict of the ‘golden’ era I often wax lyrical about. Scouring the messy scree of a field corner near Nohome Farm, I became distracted by assorted fluellens and flaxes, while Steve soldiered on in search of the main quarry. As I was eyeballing the tiny petals of a small toadflax, he located the single flower of weasel’s snout, stood stoic among the rough ground. I was well chuffed to see this little treasure. On this emotionally mixed day in time, I found my sunshine yomp around the vale nicely cathartic. Beautiful sprays of wild catmint to sniff. Carpets of round and sharp leaved fluellens running rampant. Small and common toadflaxes. Field madder and sprawling mats of black bindweed and knotgrasses. Delicate sprigs of narrow fruited cornsalad. Rough, common and opium poppies smattering the air with colour. Campions of pink and white. The whole colourful, loud orchestra made just for me, was here to drown out the buzz in my head for a bit.
Look at this place. It’s a little piece of Heaven in Surrey. A bit of rough cantering cockily through the stockbroker belt like a football-pitch streaker.
Rambling around this little pocket of the county almost reminds me of my paternal grandfathers, great uncles and aunts. They were travelling farm-labourers. Itinerant and quiet – like me – but gobby and plainly spoken. I am an apple that did not fall far from the little perllanau-afal in the villages and mountains.
But don’t tell too many folk about rare treasures. ‘Cause then everyone goes scrumping, cocks it all up and Y berllan is no more.
Venus is a secretive maiden, and Luna is Queen.
With thanks to Steve, and of course ex-nghariad’annwyl…
..and love and gratitude to my hard-as-nails ascendants. You made me and you sustain me in this fucked up today-world.