Writing 101 continues. Today’s task :
Writing 101: A Room with a View (or Just a View)
We’re all drawn to certain places. If you had the power to get somewhere — anywhere — where would you go right now? For your twist, focus on building a setting description.
There’s a crispness in the air this morning – the first of the year where a jacket is needed against the early morning chill. I shuck into the fleece, don a cap and whistle. Two black masses hurtle down the hallway to join me on the morning ritual. I open the back door and they are gone, off to catch the latest news from the canine gossip line, to flush through the browning bracken and furrow the damp grass with their noses. What’s a walk without a dog?
We head off along the farm track, passing the meadow where sheep will over-winter in a few weeks’ time. The old brick farmhouse stands sentinel as it has for a hundred years. Its red brick walls seem to have grown from the surrounding fields, and the tall chimneys twist in a spiral of brickwork towards the watery blue of the morning sky. Man and dogs together, we stride forwards. Both dogs cover five times my distance as they zig and zag in and out of the brush. Milo likes to be just out of sight, there but not there. The intrepid explorer seeking out new trails to explore. Kizzie sticks closer, stick in mouth. Suddenly a rabbit breaks cover and dashes across the path and she’s gone, haring across the common and gaining quickly. The rabbit dives for cover in a burrow and Kizzie is lost. She can’t figure out where he went. Though if she caught it, I don’t know what she would do with a stick in her mouth!
Milo, meanwhile, has gone on ahead to where the path dips into a shallow valley to cross the stream. He is dibbling in the stream, lapping the cool water . If I’m quiet, I can sneak up behind him and dig him in his ribs, making him spin around and leap at me, muddy paws flying and mouth agape in a huge grin. From here, we head off under the canopy of the woods. Even though there is a highway not a half mile distant, the woods are peaceful, quiet and serene. I love this place. I love to come here alone – well, with my dogs – but it is my place. Walking through these woods it is possible to make out the long-forgotten roadways that led from the manor to the gatekeepers cottage on the edge of the estate. The manor house is long gone now, but these vestiges hint at a time gone by, a hundred years past when the old farmhouse was new.
Ahead there is an old ornamental pond from when these grounds were part of the formal gardens of that old manor. The kids come by here some days and play at being men, but the ruins and dark waters are too spooky for most to venture after dark. I like this place. I like the crumbling decay that hints at what once was. If I sit awhile, I can see the gardens transform into their once glorious days. I can see the ladies with their parasols strolling the gravel paths with their gentlemen. I see their chaperones keeping modest presence, and there, the gardeners tending the rhododendrons and pulling weeds.
Too soon I am distracted by the sound of a mighty struggle behind me. Having destroyed her stick, Kizzie is now attempting to uproot a sapling, wrenching and tugging the tree from the ground. I call her away and distract her with another stick – there’ s no shortage – then whistle Milo from his explorations of the undergrowth. Time to head home.
This is a lightly enhanced version of my regular dog-walk when we lived in the beautiful Sussex countryside in South East England. Milo was my daily companion until he passed last September. I miss him daily. Kizzie is still with me – she will be 10 soon but still acts like a puppy. We call her our Peter Pan dog. It’s hard to see dogs age, but what would life be without them!
My intent in this piece was to evoke a feeling of peace and tranquility, and to give the reader a hint into the character of the man. Please let me know how I did.