‘Where are we going, Don? I really don’t want to go any further. Please Don, I want to go back to the car.’
‘It’s O.K. Lucy, just hold my hand, there’s a gate up ahead and we’ll stop and rest there.’
‘Oh, my God! What was that? Something brushed my hand. Was that a bird?’
Lucy clung on to him as a flock of sparrows went chittering down the hedgerow.
‘No, it’s the grasses along the hedge…’
‘Grasses, but they’re up to my waist….are we in a hole, how can grasses be touching my wrist, this is totally wierd…..no more Don, lets go back.’
‘Sit here’, he said, and she carefully felt the rough surface of a single plank of the bench they had reached at the side of the path and slowly lowered herself onto it: and still hanging on, she rested her head on his shoulder.
‘You know I hate uneven ground,’ she said, ‘it makes my legs feel like jelly.’
‘Listen,’ he said, ‘what can you hear?’
The light breeze ruffled her hair. The grasses whispered and he pulled some seeds and dropped them into her hand. She felt the husky dryness of them and pinched a seed in her nails, then she threw them into his hair and spent a while teasing them out again.
They listened to the insects and she flinched when they came close.
‘Can you sense the space here?’ he said.
She turned her head and stretched her neck so that she was sitting taller than him.
‘I can hear the grasses behind us.’ She turned and reached behind her pulling back when her hand found the stems. ‘It tickles.’
She turned further round. ‘There are some trees over there, and that’s where the crows are.’
A wood pigeon suddenly erupted from the hedge 20 yards away and flew past them. She pointed out its position and then followed its movement from the characteristic whistling vibration that the wing feathers made in panic flight. They both ducked as it passed over them.
As they sat there on that warm summer evening, he described the view and they listened to the sounds of the world as the sun dipped towards the horizon. Gradually she began to get a picture in her head of the wide open spaces that she would only ever hear, touch and smell.
Later in life, after Don had gone, she came and walked here on her own with that same picture in her head, and she pulled the grasses to collect the seeds, and remembered teasing them out of Don’s hair. That’s when she had fallen in love with him.