The Different Life of Paths

Day in, day out, paths experience a different life to that of their verges.

Very often there is undergrowth on each side of a path, sheltering one side of them from the sun’s drying rays, but their exposure to and shelter from wind also sets them apart. This can be seen most clearly when snow or frost is thawing. The path will either thaw first, or, as in this picture which I took about ten days ago, they hold onto their snow for longer.

As I mention in the book, this is something that can be of value when walking at night. If the path is big, bold and broad like this one (an old Roman road) then no help is needed in following a path at night, but if you are following one of those less clearly defined snakes in the grass then all help will be welcome. It is possible to follow one of those shy, half-concealed paths – you know the ones that flirt with the idea of being an animal track and not a human path at all – more easily by enlisting the senses of touch and hearing at night. The difference between the crisp crunch of breaking frozen flattened grass is hard to mistake with that of the thawed longer grass on either side, even if the two may occasionally look similar.

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