In the absolute stillness of the young day, the parish church sits four-square and timeless. Its west face is shadowed, cool grey stone shot through with glowing honey bands reflecting the warmth of the matching cottages across Little Moor Road. A backcloth of wispy rose and azure stripes to the east heralds another hot day arriving. The jackdaws are not yet about their raucous breakfasts, but already the steady piping of songbirds gathers volume. The fronds of the ancient yew in the churchyard corner barely move.

Our small back garden seems to hold its breath, the plants utterly motionless in the slowly gathering light. Morning is a gentle performance in this small west-facing plot, bounded on the east by our cottage, and to the west and north by tall cream-painted walls. Spikes of baby-blue delphinium and white lupin frame the midsummer riot in the garden bed: citrus yarrow and brassy yellow-orange calendula forcing the gentler pink and white of the sweet peas and poppies into shy retreat. Later as heat gathers and the sun swings over the ridge tiles to bathe the garden, these brasher flowers will meet their match. The swelling scents of roses, pinks, honeysuckle and the triumphant sweet peas will blend into the garden’s keynote. For now though, as small brown toads disappear to hide in the shade, most flowers remain dormant, colours muted, drinking deep from the still-moist soil.

The road leading away from the village out onto the moor hugs the church to west and south, empty of traffic at this hour. It’s a deceptively tranquil scene. Only the occasional stirring jackdaw can be seen now, strutting along the church wall or launching itself from the tall square church tower. Soon a lone equestrian on her morning constitutional will break the road’s silence, but not yet. The church and its neighbouring cottages doze on undisturbed. The Packhorse Inn is shuttered and peaceful, the narrow pavement empty of all but a coating of dust. This is a snapshot in time, an eternal Somerset village scene replayed over centuries of summer.

Finally a modern note obtrudes, a diesel engine approaching unseen up the road into the village. A white van – dry dirt obscuring the blazon of business on its side – approaches, sweeps round the bend, and slows at the junction with red turn light winking fitfully. A high bouncing tractor, little cab perched above huge tyres, follows behind. Today has caught up with the past. As the church tolls six bells for the hour, the village begins its 21st century patterns of activity.

S. till, I think, the bones are always there, showing through if you know where to look. Every summer morning takes us back to the older village, this long slow waking a repeated pattern holding true down the centuries. As the birds hustle and push each other off our feeding table, I turn away to make the morning tea and start this new day.

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