Growing in a small triangular copse by the stream that runs between Horbury and Wakefield,
the first daffodils I’ve seen this year are in flower. They’re a miniature variety
that might have found its way here with garden (or house plant) rubbish.
Now that the greenish-gold catkins make them obvious, it’s surprising how many hazel
bushes there are dotted about, even as you get into town. There’s one growing behind
spiky railings on what I think of the last wild patch before the city centre, behind
Cineworld and the bingo club.
A mallard and his mate dabble at the edge of a patch of water in a badly drained
corner beside the athletics track in Thornes Park. A tiny patch of wilderness but
they seem as happy here as they might be on a wetland reserve. On my urban walk these
two have the power to conjure up a wilder world for me.
THE SUBURBAN ROAD into town isn’t the most inspiring with the traffic buzzing past
all the time so - as even I don’t draw and walk at the same time - I amuse myself
by spotting groups of trees, or details like swelling buds on the hedges that I might
like to draw and I find myself composing a mind-sketch of them as I walk along.
Only yards from the incessant traffic, front gardens create a room-sized oasis of
calm. I remember when privet hedges were considered a cliché of suburbia but they’re
a perfect backdrop for the secret worlds of these little gardens. Some include water
features, flower tubs and rock chippings while the most traditional, at this time
of year, offer little more than a soggy, tired looking lawn and the pruned-back stems
of hybrid tea roses. But isn’t that so much better than looking out on a neat car