Wareham Winter Wander
Observations on a stroll to Swineham Point, 8th December 2023
The huge earth bank of the Saxon wall
Still marks the edge of town.
It was built by Alfred the Great
To keep the Vikings out
(But it didn’t work, sad to say,
The Danes occupied the town, anyway.)
No Saxons nor Vikings here today;
Just me, strolling in the sun,
And a gentle breeze sighs in the trees,
Bringing oak leaves fluttering down.
And squirrels, squirrels everywhere,
Busy, busy, busy,
Scampering up, scampering down,
Silver tails shimmering.
Across the marsh stands a strong sika stag,
Alert at the edge of the wood,
Crowned with a fine pair of antlers.
I watch him through binoculars;
He watches everything,
Keeping guard for his herd in the trees?
Hollies covered in berries this year –
Nature’s Christmas baubles;
The woods decked out for the season
With more natural beauty
Than any man-made tinsel-tree.
Suddenly, a crash!
Just five yards ahead!
A large rotten branch
Tumbles out of a tree
And lands at the edge of the path.
What dislodged it?
Nothing that I can see –
The path leaves the wood
To skirt the wetlands –
An expanse of rushes and reed beds,
My boots squelching at every step.
Reeds rustling in the breeze,
Geese honking on the lake.
A heron standing in the reeds
Takes flight as I come near,
Wings beating, legs trailing.
A group of great egrets
Stalk the shoreline.
Overhead, a big black cormorant,
A pair of shelducks, circling
In bright black and white.
Pale brown reeds,
Dark brown mud,
Little colour anywhere,
Except two blue periwinkles (out of season)
And golden-yellow gorse, which
Cheerfully flowers all year round,
Brightening every season.
An ancient blackthorn hedge
Struggling to survive,
Roots deep in water,
Branches festooned with lichen,
The black bark hidden by
Textures of grey and pale green.
A deer crossing-point –
Hundreds of hoof prints
In the oozy mud.
I leap over, unwilling to
Despoil nature’s pattern
With a human boot print.
Now turn away from the marshes
Once more into the wood,
Wind soughing in scotch pines,
Firm ground (at last!) underfoot,
Blackbirds and robins
Fly across my path.
And back again to the Saxon wall,
Up the earth bank, down into town.
So much beauty, so much to enjoy,
All within a mile of town.
And yet, today, the whole way round,
Not one human being have I met;
Only creation, the Creator, and me.