Most people have fancy phones with cameras in them. I have a phone that has no camera and no internet, but the distinct advantage of being at least eight years old and so solid that I could probably hit it with a brick and still be able to put back together the three parts it would break into. It generally breaks into the same three parts when I drop it, shut it in the car door, stand on it etc, so I’m guessing that the brick would have no immeadiately different outcome. Point is – it has no camera. So, I carry a small camera with me wherever I go. Even taking the dog for a walk. Which means that on a regular basis I get the chance to take pretty much the same picture from pretty much the same place and for me that has begun to mark the passage of the year, and how quickly it all goes. Take these two pictures of the same thing, one last winter, the other this morning.
I particularly like this place. It’s up the hill from where I live and along a Green Lane (an old trackway). There’s a ruined cottage just to the right of where I stood to take the picture, and the slab of stone to the left of middle of the picture is one upright of where a gate was hung. The other upright has been pushed aside by the ash tree that has grown just to the right of the track, which gives you an idea of how long the place has been abandoned – long enough for that tree to grow and shoulder the stone out of the way. But for all that, it still has the feel of people being there – of them putting up the heavy stone gateposts, coming in and out of the cottage. I looked on the old village census for the 1880’s and if I’ve got it right (which isn’t easy as there are no street names) I think there were two children living in the cottage then and their names were William and Mary. The other day, as I came through the old gate, I called out their names as must have happened loads of times in the past and just for a moment I wondered if anyone would answer me. They didn’t, but there’d have been a story-and-a-half to tell if they had.