(January 15th to 21st)
Back behind of her there’s steeples settin’ beside churches, an’ wise women settin’ beside their doors, an’ the sea settin’ above the land, an’ ducks herdin’ wild in the diks’ (he meant ditches). ‘The Marsh is justabout riddled with diks an’ sluices, an’ tidegates an’ water-lets. You can hear ’em bubblin’ an’ grummelin’ when the tide works in ’em, an’ then you hear the sea rangin’ left and right-handed all up along the Wall. You’ve seen how flat she is—the Marsh?
This is from “Dymchursh Flit” in Puck of Pook’s Hill.
Puck, in the guise of Tom Shoesmith is describing the strange magical landscape of Romney Marsh, from where four hundred years before the People of the Hills had sailed away from Old England.
They walked toward it through an all abandoned land. Here they found the ghost of a patch of lucerne that had refused to die: there a harsh fallow surrendered to yard-high thistles; and here a breadth of rampant kelk feigning to be lawful crop. In the ungrazed pastures swaths of dead stuff caught their feet, and the ground beneath glistened with sweat. At the bottom of the valley a little brook had undermined its footbridge, and frothed in the wreckage. But there stood great woods on the slopes beyond—old, tall, and brilliant, like unfaded tapestries against the walls of a ruined house.
This is from “An Habitation Enforced” in Actions and Reactions.
George Chapin, a wealthy American businessman, has broken down from overwork, and with his wife Sohie is on an extended vacation in Europe. Here they are exploring a farm in deepest Sussex, which will later become their home…
The valley was so choked with fog that one could scarcely see a cow’s length across a field. Every blade, twig, bracken-frond, and hoof-print carried water, and the air was filled with the noise of rushing ditches and field-drains, all delivering to the brook below. A week’s November rain on water-logged land had gorged her to full flood, and she proclaimed it aloud.
This is the opening passage of “Friendly Brook” in A Diversity of Creatures.
The brook is rising. but Jim Wickended won’t interfere with it to save his haystack. As the two hedgers Jabez and Jesse recall, he has a debt to the brook, which had drowned a blackmailer who was bleeding him dry.