A low low tide
Early October is a time when you can expect anything. The weather forecast was not very encouraging but life seems to have rather overwhelmingly busy of late so we decided to head out to Mattiscombe with regard to weather, and whether we would get the promised cloud and rain. Rain we have had plenty of in the last couple of weeks, with 100mm falling in the last week alone, half of that in a single downpour that was reminiscent of last winter’s millennial floods. Instead we ended up with one of those deeply-etched memorable walks, heading down to the beach in sunny calm warm weather that felt more like May than October.
There was of course the colour and shrivelling of the bracken that lines the path to remind us of the month. Summer has definitely fallen, the sounds and colours and field patterns shifting again. Living surrounded by a mixed farm, as we are now in a way we have never quite been before, it’s been arresting to see just how worked these fields are moving quite quickly from temporarily fallow (growing grass) to sheep to cows even sometimes to both, to post-cutting windrows for straw, to shoulder-height with corn, to freshly ploughed and drilled. The field colours can change as-if-overnight from bronze and spiky to soft and deep red, the colour of our rich Devon soil.
The beach was quiet, although perhaps not as quiet as might be expected this time of year, with a few small groups lured down by the warmth and sun. The light was exquisite as it so often is here, but the very low tide made for a particularly spectacular morning. This was not just low tide, but a low spring tide, and the water was further out than we had ever seen it, more rocks exposed than we had seen before. As so often, we could have stayed for ever, but an appointment called us back long before we wanted to leave. Walking down, I became captivated by the Angus and Ruby Red cows, mothers with what appeared to be exclusively bullocks, although there could have been girl-younglings too. Previously we’ve seen Galloways on this farm, too, so I could be mistaken about the breeds. Some of the herd were clearly still around the farm because you could hear them calling from an echo-ey place. Some in the fields called back. At some point, the first group came strolling into the main field, resulting in a great exchange of views on the day and the sun and the warmth. I recorded for at least half an hour and there will be a sound podcast soon.
With the recent storms, and the very low tide, there were great piles of seaweed lying on the sand.
Where the tide had rushed out, huge tidepools gleamed in the sunlight, some with fish of their own, many with seaweed and some with anemones that had closed, looking like gelatinous creatures from some extinct past. We surmise that these rocks are usually below the low tide mark and that these creatures were, somewhat shocked, putting themselves into a form of sleep until the water had the good grace to cover them once more.
N was at that point the only person to have disrupted the clean sand with nakedness, although there were plenty of boot-prints in evidence. Clearly the early dog walkers had been down already, although they are relatively rare here, given the abundance of other beaches with closer parking.
We tore ourselves away and tore up the hill, reluctant and without luxury of even a backward glance.