I went on an expedition today, all the way to Middlemoor roundabout, for a picnic lunch with sound artist Emma Welton amidst the trees and daffodils.
We reflected on what we could see and hear: the beauty of the daffodils in such a spread as we had hardly seen in recent years; the waves of traffic slowing and accelerating at the lights; a daff-coloured van; a car back-firing, squeaky bike brakes, a siren; a distant pneumatic drill; the shapes of the trees above us and the leaves at our feet; a bumble bee’s hum amplified to a passing moped; the crunch of beech mast; the whisper of the wind among the daffodils; the keening of gulls, or was it a school playground?
The leaves spoke of field maple, beech, oak, possibly birch. We picnicked under a maple covered in mess and lichen. Shouldn’t that indicate clean air? Emma can identify a tree by the sound as she walks beneath. The trees I though might be birch and oak by their shape and leaves became beech when close enough to see their bark and the clinging remnant of last year’s leaves.
We reflected on our work, practice, music-making, and how COVID had affected them.
How did that adolescent holly get here? A berry fortuitously landed by an old nutritious stump after being dropped or excreted by a passing bird. How much work needs doing on the roundabout? We see evidence of grass cutting and tree management. Who planted the daffodils? The trumpets in the far swathe look slightly darker. Do the branches of the trees touch at their uttermost? They are networked underground.
Emma took a sound recording. I crawled through the daffs on my belly and elbows, then lay on my back watching them bob above me, framed by the bare branches. Patches of blue sky scudded overhead as the gulls wheeled into and out of sight.
On the value of paying attention:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.