Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Curious Incident of the Fog in the Daytime

The fog has lain thick in my corner of Suffolk for two days now…but far from being a nuisance, it has inspired a weird eerie-cosy feeling. It makes you hurry to get home and take a last, long stare into the translucent atmosphere (just in case those shadows move) before drawing the curtains, lighting the lamps and settling down early for the evening, with tea, toast, a purring cat and sleepy children.

It’s even more fun if you’ve been out all morning enveloped in it and finding things you didn’t know you were searching for, as I was today. The impressions of the day have followed me home like friendly ghosts and urged me to write their story!
It’s quite amazing how much the fog has revealed. As we set out on our treasure hunt the first thing I notice is the plethora of spiders’ webs, highlighted by drops of moisture and hanging like cradles from branches and between leaves. Suddenly I am aware of this fragile world that is everywhere, and slow my movements and watch where I plant my feet.

Up in the woods, the tap-tap-tap of moisture falling from above is the backdrop for other sounds travelling through the obfuscation. The cry of a tawny owl surprises us—owls in daytime always fascinate me—and the sharp cough of a rutting deer cuts through the blanket of fog.
This place is weirdly magical, especially so today. Further into our walk, our guide tells us that here ducks nest in trees (really, it’s true!) and points out a pair of Egyptian geese—naturalised, but somehow out of place. Considered sacred by the ancient Egyptians, they certainly have the air of the orient about them. Their rich brown eye-patches remind me of overdone kohl.

Deep into the woods, all is quiet. We’re too far from roads for any traffic noise, and I shouldn’t be surprised to see a creature as rare and retiring as the Gruffalo emerge from between the Scots pines, pause and sniff in our direction, then retreat.

The almost-bare poplars make a melancholy scene. Once grown for match production, they now stand redundant, but so upright and regimented that you can’t help feeling pity for their blind and naked optimism.
A last treat as we leave the woodland is the sight of a majestic buzzard, wings outstretched, soaring then gliding through the trees.

On the way back to base we pass the Fairy Lake, trees hundreds of years old (including the Tea Party Oak) and a curious set of bumps in the ground that mark the site of the village precursor to the park. It had diminished over the years before the park was established in 1700, possibly due to the various outbreaks of plague prior to this time. Now I know why I felt so many eyes on me…

The grand, Italianate house is irrelevant today…you can’t see it through the fog anyway. Let its story be told another day.
I knew this place was supernatural but today the fog has elevated it to a Wonderland, revealing more than it has obscured. Hardly surprising when we’re so near to Hallowe’en, when the door to the Otherworld opens far enough to let through what normally hides in darkness. But rest assured, these curious beings aren’t harmful—they’re our link to another world—so remember to give them a friendly wink or a wave next time you’re in the deep, dark woods…

Do you know where I was today? Clue: big park near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk!
Vintage Script supports Visit Suffolk's Curious County campaign!