The maiden, the mother and the crone headed up the valley side, the warm west wind at their backs, sharing treasured memories of the passing season.

‘Over the hill there will be a beautiful blue sea. The sun will be shining, children will be paddling. We may go swimming. It will be a sight of summer.’

They reached the brow of the hill, but there was no sea.

In the distance the siren song of a mermaid called across the country, beckoning those that explore to discover enchantment.

Seagulls sailed effortlessly on the up current of air rising from the hillside, landing on the masts of tall sailing ships moored in lines along harbour walls. The Summerland of open sands stretched out in front of them. Sunbathers enjoyed the beach. Short sturdy people sat in groups chatting, or alone, watching the dance that surrounded them. One wore a long white robe but had no sun hat and lobster pink tinged its lower body. Others had lain in the summer heat too long and were turned a sunburnt brown. Sandcastles with tall lollipop flagpoles dotted the undulating sand hills. Pennants streamed from their tops and shells, pebbles and seaweed lay strewn around their bases. Pools of water reposed in smooth hollows, their surface brushed and rippled in the gentle breeze. A sand yacht dashed across their path, scudding over the land. On their left a small haven, provided by low harbour walls, protected another sand yacht. Fine tall ocean sailing vessels, their ropes and gear knocking against masts, tinkled like bells. In the distance there were white dinghies, bobbing on calm shallow water.

They had walked far enough. They turned…. The white dinghies dissolved to become sheep ambling away…

The cold west wind blew and lashing winter rain started to soak into the clothes and hair of the maiden, the mother and the crone.

They scurried for the haven of tall trees on their right. As they stood looking at the remains of an old mine a hare, camouflaged until the last moment, broke its stand and dashed away, scudding across the land. The tall trees rustled as the sound of the ocean and the wind. Facing the gale they walked. The wide open stretch of green grass between fields walls held shallow pools of gathered water and on small knolls, tall sycamore trees stood, their leaves like flags flapping in the winter gale. One had two trunks growing from the base, another smooth from the rubbing of sheep.

Mushrooms decorated in long white raincoats or with brown, mushy bodies, raised themselves above the grass in a last gasp of growth before the harshness of winter overcame them. As they reached the brow of the hill again crows sailed effortlessly on the up current of air rising from the hillside, landing on the topmost canopy of trees standing in lines along field walls.

They climbed a stile and returned by a different route down the hillside, looking forward to the winter sledging, cosy log fires at home and bowls of warming soup.

Page last updated: 13th Jan 2011