Day 29

More sunshine. These days are brightly lit, but carry a chill that reaches deep to the bones.

The first swallow has arrived here and waits patiently on a telephone wire strung high above the street. It calls out to attract its followers to join the line-up. How many will battle successfully through the northerly winds? When you see these birds in Spain and France one wonders what attracts them to this North Sea coast. There are certainly enough small flying insects to feed them and their young. 

I mention the swallow’s arrival to a man walking nearby. He laughs, as if disdainful of this cheery sign. I felt it worth sharing. I wonder, what made him laugh so harshly? Was this a triviality because he carries great worries? Was he just caught off-guard by the lightness of the comment? For some, the unrelenting strain of these days is hard to exchange for a fleeting courtesy. I grit my teeth and press on towards the sea.

On the beach a dead small-spotted catfish, one of the smallest members of the shark family, has been left far up the shingle by the falling tide. Its eyes are still bright enough to reflect the sun’s last rays, but it’s rough, mottled skin is drying out. The slender body is already curling to one side, its tail now stiff. There is no obvious sign of injury. These catfish, members of the shark family, have several names, including Sandy Dogfish, Rough-hound, or Morgay.

The name Morgay is only applied to this fish in Scotland and Cornwall, highlighting common roots of language at the extreme ends of Britain, some eight hundred to nine hundred miles apart, (about 1,400 km distant). 

At dinner, there is nothing much new to say. We are grateful for what we have, but anxiety holds us tight. The unpolished surface of the old pine kitchen-table quietly absorbs silently spilt tears.

Christopher Perry

15th April, 2020

Day 3

Early to the heath accompanied by birds in full song. A red kite hangs above the oak trees trying to get a fix on breakfast despite the gusting northerly.

Three other birds of prey wheel, hover, patrol the ridge.

From the still sodden fields curlews agitated cries cut through melodies of dunnocks and robins; contrast with the squeaky rhythm of great tits welcoming spring.

A Muntjac deer with its back legs caught in the fence wire, hangs head down, front legs limp, its rear torn open by a fox, crimson.

On the way back down the lane my attention is held by a movement on the verge. I see a mouse, its tiny marble-black eyes glint from beneath celandine leaves. We spend moments staring at each other. The mouse loses interest first and scrambles off leaving wavering plants in its wake.

By evening the bitter wind from the north sweeps up the hill from the sea, over the head of a red deer hind with her fawn nibbling at crumbs left by goats from their plastic bucket.

The spectacular yellow blooms of gorse purses are open for business. A bumble bee passes loudly, yet unseen.

I go to bed.

“Night night”

“Good night, dear friend.”

It has been Friday.

.

CLP  20/03/2020

 

On the Ramp

Two Devon Reds

Hesitate at the trailer ramp

Roughly littered with straw.

They walked together from the field

Steaming backs

Exhaling clouds to the chilly dawn

After the heavy rain of night.

Have they realised

The pasture is behind them

A vet is waiting

The abattoir is open for business?

.

CLP 11/09/2019