The Retting Pond At West Runton
The Retting Pond
draws me to it as
to catch a diversity of insects
hovering or skimming across its iron brown surface.
Mallard and water hen
compete noisily for bread thrown
by chattering children
holidaying with harassed parents;
chivvying them on
anxious to be elsewhere.
Whilst I watch the water
wondering at it’s history
my imagination recreates the scene;
women carrying the bundles of flax and hemp,
rough hands busily laying them in the pond for soaking;
the fleshy parts slowly disintegrating leaving the fibres.
Later, fibres will dry
to be woven into ropes from the hemp
and sailcloth from the flax.
The young among them
giggling and gossiping
as their older companions tut tut at their frivolity.
The sun beats gently at my skin
pleasantly warming me.
Subtle perfumes rise to tease my nose;
the greater mace reeds with it’s bull rush head,
willow herb, the sunshine yellow of the
creeping buttercup mingle among the marsh marigold.
Here and there a few late forget-me-not persist
around the skeletons of the flag iris and wild lupin.
Arrow head ferns standing sentinel over all;
providing cover for the shy water vole
and a hide for the noisy frogs.
Soon the woodcock, snipe and curlew
will pay their annual visit.
For now though a heron dives and surfaces
with an unfortunate fish glistening,
dripping sparkling droplets of water from his beak;
collard doves coo dolefully
from the surrounding trees.
A movement at my feet intrudes;
I look down to see a cheeky mallard
reminding me to feed him the bread I hold in my hand.