This week’s sentence was taken from L. Frank Baum’s ‘The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz’.
‘Not a tree nor a house broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached to the edge of the sky in all directions.’
Prelude To An Incident On Somerleyton Marshes
Blindingly bright shivers of light sparked off the water, breeze-ruffled, disturbed by the passage of mallard and water vole. Green-mottled beneath the surface shimmer lurked a sly old pike, invisible in the weeds, cold as the death awaiting unwary stickleback or perch.
Lacking the patience of pike, the boy raised his eyes from the river and the world swept to the horizontal.
Not a tree nor a house broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached to the edge of the sky in all directions. Only the broken brick stumps of windpumps, mostly long-derelict dared raise their heads above that endless ochre ocean, their graceful white sails long since replaced by diesel pumps hidden in nasty little fletton boxes alongside the myriad dykes and ditches of this trackless world of bog and fen.
Black peat oozed black water over the boy's boots as he walked, filling his footprints, leaving a trail of miniature lakes in his wake.
The soft squelch followed him, yet the vast expanse was far from silent. A cacophony of song from warbler, coot, moorhen and mallard accompanied him. Across the marsh came the low boom of a bittern, and far above the water meadows a single skylark trilled it's brilliant song to the world. The boy craned his neck and squinted into the sun until he spotted the tiny dot. It must have nested on the riverbank, the thin ribbon of short, duck-cropped grass snaking through the crowding, hissing reeds.
The breeze gave the marsh its sibilant voice and brushed its fingers softly through the surface sending waves, sea-like flowing across the reedbeds, hypnotising the boy into daydreams of pirate ships and the cries of gulls.
Tiny stained patches of dull green-black alder carr stitched the join between the flattened disc of dull gold and a sky far bigger than the world.
There above him spanned a monstrous arch of universal unreal blue, intense as lapiz lazuli on Tamurlane’s domes in far Samarkand. The boy gazed upward in awe, his dreams now sent flying by magic carpet into the worlds he loved: of exotic Arabian nights and tales of caravanserai along the ancient silk road.
That great bullying, overbearing sky pressed down on him and on this land flatter than freshly ironed linen, dwarfing the world, squeezing it into these few square miles of waterlogged flood plain where he wandered twixt mead and mere, an insignificant ant traversing a devastating emptiness.
Up ahead he heard at last the swish and crackle of scythes through Norfolk reed and the low mardling of Habbo and Roly in their flatboats cutting bundles for thatching, their harvest soon to gleam gold on church and cottage roof, lovingly entwined with hazel spars. The thatch would be good for another eighty years of blazing hot summers and those bitter Norfolk winters that lashed down from the arctic, their bellies replete with invading hordes of swan and tern.
Habbo looked up as the boy waded closer.