Sunshine on Sparty Lea

For an hour or so yesterday afternoon, the intense blue of the sky and the bright sunshine on the east bank of the River East Allen combined to reveal the seductive enchantment of the huge landscape we look out at daily.

I don’t often concentrate on Poets’ Corner, when I think of the hamlet of Sparty Lea. The tiny village itself feels as if it’s centred around the sub-Post Office and the old Methodist chapel, but in fact the designation Sparty Lea always encompassed a much broader swathe of the East Allen valley.

Never mind all that, what I wanted to think about was the glorious afternoon sunshine and the bright blue sky. After the torrential and persistent rain, the buffeting wind and the general inclemency of the past week with its three named storms (Dudley, Eunice, and Franklin on their heels Sunday evening), a sunny respite was very kindly received. And yesterday afternoon the sun shone on Poets’ Corner and from up here across the way it felt and looked glorious.

I didn’t feel at all in a Wordsworth mood, either, but I knew I wanted to try to capture the sunshine, against the dark days that have been, and that are surely still on their way. A ray of light to bring a moment of gladness. It was much more fun trying to get a photograph than to do what I should have been doing: insinuating myself into new long leather gauntlets so that I could proceed to trim more hedge in relative safety.

Perhaps I’ll attack the hedge again today during the rain, for my sins. But it’s a good thing that I was able, in repose, to look out and enjoy the view and the sunshine, really. Because, and this is my real motivation, much as I do enjoy the exercise of hedge trimming, and the feeling of satisfaction when it will finally be neat and tidy, I’m now at the age where an active search for easier-realised joy is a bit more important.

Terry Conway, fondly remembered in these parts and throughout the land for his poetic songs in the folk idiom, called the high fellsides around us ‘drumlie fells and brown.’ He went on to note, ‘Some ye ken would ca’en dreary. Hey nivvor mind, they suit their homely gown.’

Grateful for the joy you brought us, Terry, and though we may wander all ways, we’ll never be shamed to think of ‘hame’, far in the vale, where the Eastern Allen runs.

Especially when the sun shines.

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