Richard Lutz finds a perfect sky.
There was a quiz we took recently where all the answers were linked with the colour blue: cornflower, midnight, ice, navy. Get it? Somehow the word ‘cerulean’ didn’t come into it. Funny that.
I thought of this when I was walking in the Warwickshire woods south of Alcester. The sky was clear and the blue close to transparent – so much so that you can almost glimpse a veil of white behind it. It was the pale of early winter and there was a snap to the breeze.
The trees (silver birch, ash and oak, below) stood bare and quiet. The green fields rolled to the south to a hamlet actually called Little Britain. Traffic noise slackened, then was blocked by the woods.
What shade was this sky, though? Not any in the quiz. I looked it up later. It was baby blue. It didn’t have the power of navy blue, the frigidity of ice blue, the darkness of midnight, the seductive depth of, yes, cerulean blue. The baby blue above us was a veil, a cloak, the lightest shade of blue. Baby blue.
We increased the loop of the walk because of this gentle touch of winter. There was no mud that usually plagues a Midlands trek. The paths were dry, the horses hadn’t chewed them up and the sloping fields, green as an Irish blanket, rolled and rolled and rolled.
A chestnut mare clomped up to us and waited. A call of a circling hawk pierced the big silence and, as we approached the farm, we were brought to our senses by the noisy cow barn and a sweet-smelling pile of silage.
We stopped for lunch on an old bench. It was beneath an older village notice board bordered by an oak frame. A white van passed us, hurriedly reversed and out jumped a city delivery guy all in a great rush.
“Do you know this address?” he asked. Grove Hill Cottage. No, we didn’t. He had miles to go and was probably tied into a digital tracker. Some of these delivery drivers do 75 drop-offs a day. Poor guy. A bit of modern life sweeping past us on our bench and our baby blue sky.
He disappeared up a drive. Then he re-appeared and started up the van, gave us a hurried smile and a nod. He roared off around a bend and was gone. Grove Hill Cottage: one delivery of a slim parcel. And he was off to the next hurried drop-off.
We cut across a field of turnips. Not a field. More like a county of turnips, probably to feed a world of cows during the winter. The baby blue sky kept us covered and, when we turned a bend in the path that curved with the trees, the fresh breeze vanished and we were left in warm sun and that lighter than air baby blue sky.