Misty’s snout skims the ground as she hoovers up the scents on the gravel path before us. She tugs on her long lead alerting me to my unhurried pace, which does not equal the pace of a curious dog. I call her to my side, unhook her and she wanders off ahead. The sun is high in the sky and glints on the shallow stream that bubbles and sloshes over the rocks and banks. A gentle breeze catches the scent of wild garlic that overpowers the sweet smell of the pink willow-herb and the rich floral scent of the day lillies. I stop to look closely at the tall spikes of purple Persicaria that stand rigidly amongst the swaying colours of nature. From a distance, the Persicaria looks like a long purple knitted sock without a foot. I place my palm gently against the tallest spike to see that it houses a thousand tiny flowers, each with a little tongue spearing outwardly to lick the suns warm rays.
A wet nose brushes my hand, coaxing me to continue. We have wandered a mile or so into the quiet countryside and the further we stray from the noisy suburban streets, the louder nature becomes. I can hear the trees swish and groan as the wind swirls high above my head. The buzzing of insects and rustling of grass is magnified; I feel intrusive with my clumsy converse trainers, scuffing and kicking up gravel stones. We reach a small wooden bridge, which is our normal turning point for returning home. Misty, however, has wandered happily into a small thin rural track. The track looks less inviting for me as I look down at my naked legs and at the bushes of dark green hairy stinging nettles. I call her to me but curiousness has resulted in selective hearing and she sniffs her way out of reach. The ground is uneven here and I find myself stumbling over large stones while trying to avoid the danger of being stung. There is a familiarity about the stones under my feet and I bend down and pick up two of the most unusually shaped ones. They are pale grey and almost round with various little holes and grooves that my fingers rub over trying to find their way into the little crevices. I smile to myself as I rub the stones together and hold them to my nose. A smell of warm sulphur wafts into the air and for a brief moment, I am standing on the old railway track at the foot of my parent’s garden. I am eight years old again and the sound of nature has transformed into the sound of children laughing and playing. The trees, flowers, and nettles become mucky wellington boots and ginger hair and tiny red shorts. The stones in my hand were meteorites sent from outer space to be made in to stink bombs. My eight-year-old fingers slide easily into the little groves and I rub the stones frantically together to create the strongest and eggiest smell to chase my friends with.
A loud splash pierces the memory and the stones fall from my hands.
© Kirsty Lear-Grant