I have been writing some other things, difficult things, intransigent things, things that give me the eye. No, that's not quite right. It's not the things. It's that I'm trying to stuff them into a certain kind of box, make them into a very particular kind of thing, and they don't like it, or they don't like me, or they don't like my weird, exogenous, interloping story about how they're supposed to be moulded into The Literary and they have been giving me the big fuck-you.
But also while you are writing things they accidentally fall into wheel-ruts in the dirt that you didn't know were there and off they go around the corner and you've had another, related thought but it doesn't go now because you're already around the corner and looking into the hazel bush for the black cap instead of the wheat field you thought you were talking about.
Sometimes that is all right but sometimes you are trying so hard to say a thing, a particular thing --- suck it, whatever's-round-the-corner --- and it's like spinning your little cart-wheels desperately in the mud because today I want to talk about my affair of the heart with a country. Or perhaps not a country, really, but somewhere that I imagine exists where the country really is. How do I tell the story of falling in love with England, which later turned out to be something more like sort-of-England, and all the messy, bonkers, perfect, perfectly shit things that happened because of it? How do you even start to tackle the imaginings and the thousand, thousand reimaginings over the long sticky forever between your doe-eyed fetish for a place you have come to visit and the battered, patinated love for where you choose to stay?
There is a lot of English nature writing. It's a thing. Some of it is as beautiful and provocative and truthy as anything people can do with words. But often I am desperate with the sense that they are not talking to me, the one without the front-door key. They are not talking about the hedges I look into, the ones I wasn't hidden in as a child, didn't climb over on a stile, the ones with nothing in them that I know, and then the one thing I know, and then the few, and then suddenly but not really suddenly many, many things as I walk past marking out the edges of the hawthorn and the hazel, blackthorn and beech. They are not talking about the grass snake that eyed me from the wild garlic at Greywell, its smooth head neatly angled like something off Cleopatra's forehead, as thrilling as anything I saw in the wood that day because while we observe each other I taste bright-white metal from old, quick, spectacularly rational snake-adrenaline, transfixed by the possibility of even standing near.
They are not talking about the things in my maple, for they have no idea that the blue-tit upside-down brings a passport in his foot.