Monday, 5 October 2015

Nature is so quiet

Nature is so quiet, humankind often has to fill its space with noise.

I had a few hours to kill the other day and found myself exploring a huge industrial area on the west side of Reading. My original aim had been to explore somewhere a little more rural but due to a change of plan I decided to see what I could find in this rather modern industrial area. My walk took me from the Holiday Inn near Junction 11 of the M4 past endless industrial units, alongside the A33, past the sewage works, along the Kennet and Avon canal and back down the B3031 leading out from the town centre. A stunningly beautiful 3 mile or so walk….! Well, it was actually quite interesting and one place in particular caught my attention.

I found a place between the industrial estate and the busy A33 where a flyover meets a footbridge and various paths over and alongside a small ‘river’. Here was a sudden abundance of greenness just touched with the bright colours and fragrance of early autumn. Willow trees grew on the banks with brambles cascading down over metal fences and concrete like waterfalls. Floating patches of water pennywort (apparently a very invasive alien plant) and pond weed added areas of bright green to the slowly moving water. Comfrey, bindweed, willow herb and other plants were abundant at the water’s edge. Birds: crows, 1 male and 2 female mallards, robin singing, blackbird, grey wagtail and a pigeon. No fish seen. Some rubbish was present but not as much as I might have expected: cans, bottles, a life belt and a metal pole.

A small pale brown moth has landed on the surface of the smooth water and its fluttering struggles send a mass of fine perfectly round ripples outwards. They remind me of the growth rings found on sawn tree trunks. A few bubbles of gas rise from the depths and cause a few ripples too.

Traffic constantly thunders by behind about 20 meters away behind a hedge. Ambulance sirens, a car alarm, an aeroplane… There is noise all around and yet this patch of nature generates none of it. Aren’t we a noisy lot?

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