High Summer

An explosion of dust

An explosion of dust

Amidst swarms of swallows and ragged robin, the Chayne is coasting through summer. I headed up to turn the peats and clear a fallen tree this afternoon, and the hill was literally reeking with the tang of bedstraw. Flights of linnets and goldfinches prowled around the thistles, and snipe chipped with a sing-song cheeriness over the short grass where tufts of fallen wool lie like down.

The peats have dried beautifully, and the first loads came down on my back last week. The wonderful blocks of soggy chocolate have curled in the drying wind, contracting into gnarled silver slabs like toenail clippings on the moss. Grouse have been using them as lookout posts, and their short cylindrical sections of brick-red droppings have also dried amongst the first of the bog asphodel.

Looking back through some old pictures, I found this photo of a moulting blackcock enjoying a dustbath on the Chayne in 2010. I have an idea for a painting which involves blackcock in the moult, so that will be my project for this week, if only to set down on canvas something of these lush, vivid weeks before we return again to short, sodden windows of snow and white grass.

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