It's not so many years since these tracks were used. How long before they are buried and forgotten?

For the past eleven years or so I have been standing on the same balcony, smoking and thinking (about stopping smoking sometimes) and staring at a big lump of exposed bedrock in the woods opposite. It’s quite a big lump, about five metres by three, and when we arrived it was almost completely bald, with just a little forest of moss on its highest point, and seven hollows which filled with water when it rained. I called it the ‘Island of Seven Lakes’ and imagined that it was either an island in the sea, or perhaps some massive rocky outcrop in the middle of the forest, inhabited by an uncontacted tribe who would form the basis of a novel. However, life was busy and the book has yet to be written.

On a more real level, the past eleven years have seen that rock slowly, oh so slowly, covered in moss. The rocky pools have filled with decomposing leaves and this year is the first when I can honestly say that, at last, nature has managed to put clothes all over that naked outcrop. So what, one might say, but think on. This particular lump of granite is nine metres above sea level, which means that she rose out of the sea nearly 1,000 years ago, and for 989 of those years life had failed to get a solid foothold on her. Now, mosses and lichens cover almost all of her surface, and soon the grasses which surround her will start to climb up and over. There is even a tiny sapling of a tree which has taken hold in what was one of her ‘lakes’.

It is fascinating to imagine how our locality would look after, say, a hundred years, without any human intervention. Asphalt and concrete would have been slowly encroached on by mosses and grass. The paths of kerb stones would barely be discernible under the growths. Small trees would have popped up in cracks in the driveway. It wouldn’t take long – even the houses would slowly turn greener and greener. We humans are particularly skilled at transforming the landscape into more convenient shapes, but when we’re gone (and I think we will be one day) the planet will soon cover our traces.