Posted by: Ross Gardner | October 23, 2018

Of wind and wonder


Aust Cliff

A breezy day yesterday at Walton-on-the-Naze put me in mind of some verse I had penned a few years back, for a different place but at the same time of the season.  For both the attraction was the same – the lure of fossils on a beach.  That previous location however, was far from Northeast Essex coast at Walton.  It was the other side of the country in fact, in the lea of the red and grey facade of Aust Cliff, on the banks of the River Severn, in view, pretty much, of the Severn Bridge.  And instead of the Eocene exposure of the crumbling east coast cliff, bearing its hoard of 50 million year old shark teeth and more recent (but still ancient) fossil shells and fragments of whalebone, those western cliffs yield Triassic fossils of much older origins, 200 million years before – shark teeth also, but maybe for very fortunate bone fragments of plesioraurs and ichthyosours.

But while the fossil hunting was not especially successful it was the wind that day which stuck in the memory…

Storm Rising
The wind drums at the cliff-face,
Through bridges, beneath the eaves
Of houses facing the blast.
Rattles the flashing leaves
Of poplars seething with every
Grabbing, grappling gust.
Churns a chocolate sea, breaking
Over wave-smoothed mud
In a foam of creaming surf.
Boomerangs the gulls above,
Throws starlings looping
Over fields of quivering turf.
Tolerates a kestrel hanging
In a precarious hover,
Defying the rush of air.
The wind shuns each feather,
The elements of sea and stone,
Raising its voice to the Earth's ear.



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