Talk of A Battle

The gate cold and functional. Hard to sneak into this field unnoticed, scraping of metal and bang! It gets me every time. A muddy leaf strewn path through rain flattened grass. The chapel alone at the heart of the field, its walls grey like the day.

Leaves rustle, wood smoke drifts on the breeze from the old manor house hidden in the trees. Birds sing busy with autumn chores.

A little routine develops throw the ball, walk, snap a photo, throw the ball. Cars and vans pass on the nearby country road. I notice the motorway two miles at least. Rumbling like a distant jet. A quick shower as I brush against the hedgerow. Fallow fields, ploughed fields and next year’s crop already coming through.

Vibrant autumn colours all around. Even a few flowers still adorn the path, purple clover and yellow ragwort. A lone crow fulfilling its destiny in a gnarled old tree, trying hard to be sinister. I like crows they get a bad press, proper family guys. A flock of starlings hustle around the afternoon sky.

The ground by the river is wet a turquoise drift of reeds among the grass. A cloak of trees hides this meandering beck. They say it has Salmon. Nearer to Leeds burnt out cars and wheelie bins was all it once had. Another dog walker a friendly chap.

Talk of that battle five hundred years ago, still news in these parts. Would they recognise it round here? The buildings, woods, river, the lie of the land. Rain begins beating on the leaves. A war fought a mile or so away right by this little tributary that ran red with the blood of ten thousand souls. What would I hear? Not the road. Crashing metal, horses, shouting.

The motorway louder now. A waterlogged field, wet feet. The dog loves rolling in puddles. Hayton Wood on the skyline, then a faint sweet scent I recognise it. Where from? The valley narrower now has flooded forming a small lake. The path climbs higher, a motorway sign just visible and cars flashing by. Birds are inaudible.

A three thousand-year old earthwork, not much left. Spring crops and cabbage. My secret, not so secret spot. I scour the ground for treasure. A Celtic brooch with jewels undisturbed for millennia. I know I should declare it, would I? Or just put it in my shoe box with a note about where and when I found it.

Across a cold, wet meadow where I lay last summer staring up at the sky. The earthwork now visible. New saplings, discarded logs a hard path, forestry work all around. Three thousand years, hard to imagine that far back. The woodland closes in. Moss and leaves carpet the floor, eyes unseen. Open fields once more I smile, that familiar almost prehistoric screech lost in the cloud and mist. A Red Kite has joined our journey home. The Kite and now my dog make me smile. A Pheasant scampers across the field, she missed it. The tennis ball, there is nothing else!


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