Open Season

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Spot the brood of pheasants…

The first of September, and down to the river where the ducks are ripe for the taking. I’ve marked this dawn for nineteen consecutive years; a quiet nod to the coming winter; the whistle of wings in a blue, starlit sky.

The water wound around my feet, and when the flight came I fluffed my chance. The birds peeled away and were gone, and I stepped for home in the rising rain with hours to spare before it would be time to start the day.

There were hares about the turnip field, and a brood of young pheasants in the close. It’s been astonishing to watch some of these broods as the summer goes on; I’d never expect them to prosper in a normal year, but the turnips have buoyed them on beyond all optimism. I walk out to thin the crop and find young birds in twos and threes; they run ahead of me along the drills and flush from beds of chickweed and fumitory.

Now the grass is thick and it falls to a grey wake like fabric around the washing green and the kailyard. I looked to Screel and the heights of Bengairn and Rascarrel, watching them blur to felt as the smirr came racing in and sealed the moment with a rush of new rain. It’s all downhill from here.

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