Inspired by walks in scenic Weardale, Michael Powell shares a poem highlighting the importance of nature during the testing days of lockdown.
From Crawley Incline over Bashaw Rigg
The gamekeeper’s track wanders up the moor,
Today’s escape from lockdown’s iron grip
And the dream-world of these sleepwalking days.
Up here permitted daily exercise
Means freedom and a chance to breathe clean air.
A cool breeze gently combs the heather and
Whispers through the walls of the old sheep fold.
The moors create their own social distance.
It is breeding season for upland birds;
Curlews glide effortlessly across the moor
Murmuring their soft and wistful love-weep,
While lapwings wheel and dive in mad display,
Bleeping like strange demented aliens.
We climb to the summit of Collier Law
Where, drawing our breath, we stop to survey
The broad sweep of the dale spread out below.
The land dreams in sleep beneath the heat haze
Of a warm, dry spring no-one expected;
And untroubled by human contagion The lowland trees are thrusting into leaf,
Eager to embrace an early summer.
Leaving behind our silent reflections
We follow Black Burn to make a descent
Where tetchy red grouse urge us to “go back”
And small heath butterflies basking in heat
Scoot away to avoid our tramping feet.
By the time we reach Shittlehope we are
Thinking of home and what waits for us there.
The daily briefing and the new death toll,
The current R-number, clap for carers:
The liturgy of nightmares still to come
That haunt our subconscious pandemic dreams.
What sustains us through these darkest of days
Is our connection to the airy moors,
That upper world of sunlight, wind and rain
Where Nature’s cycle turns the wheel of life,
Regardless of our self-inflicted woes.
We too are children of this world although
In our hubris we often do forget.
These troubled times remind us of the need
To slow down, slacken our pace, and stop;
Hear once again that deeper, ancient pulse
That drives a living world in harmony.
In darkness we can sow the seeds of hope
But all must strive to bring them to the light.
Stay at home
But stay tuned
Work to restore the balance
Explore a live reading of Lockdown
The films were created by Lonely Tower Film & Media and the project supported by the Weardale Area Action Partnership Covid-19 assistance fund.