Footprints

I am following footprints, a pattern of tracks along a forest trail. A multitude of opposed arches, the marks of cloven hooves, leave blades of mud. The prints mark the passing of a herd of herbivores along the path I am walking. The marks are crisp, fresh. I listen but all I can hear is the swish of wind in branches and occasional calls of coal tit and goldcrest. The tracks continue for half a mile. To leave the track in the wood I have to climb a low bank where the ground is smothered by a sponge of grass, bramble and branches. With each step the sponge is squashed and branches snapped. Beneath the trees the ground is brown pine needles and hidden branches. This ground feels hollow. A tangle of dead, scaly, reptilian twigs stops my progress beneath the trees, threatening to impale my eye. The decision to follow the obvious track is easy.
The hoof prints stop where the track emerges from the pines. Wind turbines stand on the hill. At first these are silent, but closer there is a soft hush like a distant jet plane. They stand like weather vanes rotating in unison. A derelict stone hut stands proud on the skyline, two gable ends and a single crumbling wall, whilst sheep graze quietly and chew the cud on the sward beneath the blades. A buzzard drifts slowly between the turbines, balanced on the wind as each wing makes minute adjustments, feeling each ripple of air. Flocks of fieldfare, shouting their chackly call, fly past like dust clouds in the wind. The sound of the turbines competes with the wind in the trees. The trees win. As I spend a few moments next to the wind farm the noise recedes from my attention like a fading echo.

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