Country diary: there is nothing permanent about a sand dune

Country diary: there is nothing permanent about a sand dune

Morfa Harlech, Gwynedd: From under the moody pines, we look out with that uncomprehending way of holidaymakers

Where the shale road through forestry gives out on to a bank of dunes, the last of the lodgepole pines rise from the sand more like masts or aerials. These tall, rangy trees have an uncanny atmosphere at the end of something; they are beautiful but thinning, darkening, fading of time and place.

On a dune-top under pines that has the air of an MR James story, we view the country with that uncomprehending way of holidaymakers, as the mists roam the summits of mountains, as the estuary lays its mud and snakes into a sea that heaves over the far horizon. We are gormless in a brilliant land, exiled for a couple of years in which everything changed. So we hang on to the familiar: the percussion of trains sidling under raven-speaking woods, swallows gathering on barbed wire in fields where sheep rest in the rain, the reversing alarms of bin lorries at the recycling depot, the sly mirth of gulls.

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