heroic ambition, today's story, Uncategorized, village life

Flying beyond the flock

Two small birds tear into the sky – and out again – like streakers on a cricket field.
Their compact profile and short triangular wings are familiar – but anomalous. They are surely starlings – and not only that – they are the starlings nesting in my eaves – or rather under the tin roof of the bunkhouse. I see them flying in and out of the gable end when I cross the bridge to my office – but mostly in the summer. There is something remarkable about this pair climbing the air above the Apron field where the stotts are now clearing the troughs of this morning’s nuts.
Starlings are woodland birds, so tree-loving not house sharing: and profoundly gregarious, swirling in great single-minded flocks like shoals. My birds behave differently, of necessity maybe or choice – and this aspiring glory in solitary flight marks my vision as I race the quad up to the gate from the bottom paddock with the Nog zigzagging madly across my bows.
Feeding the beasts is a welcome obligation – I know how to start my day – but to continue….? Work with immediate tasks- tag the carcase hanging by the pond, text the gamedealer, empty my pack to dry out my gear, oil and sharpen my knives – and then…?

Which item on the Endless List is fit for crossing off?
-and then-

Lynda phones to say Marie and Kari are here.
These are Wally’s womenfolk: – Wally Herbert- the greatest British polar traveller – ¬†resident in the village for the last decade of his life
– and generous host

– and friend.
Wally made his own path where there are none; forcing his way forward in places without precedent, against Nature’s adversity and with little support or acclaim.

Marie and Kari follow in his steps, not the ones quickly filled with blown snow on the polar approaches, but the more enduring habits of psychological enterprise and endurance.

Some habits cast hard like pre-human prints on a beach- or the flight of starlings.


2 thoughts on “Flying beyond the flock

  1. Ahhh! Roy! Starlings! So you love them too. I can’t take my eyes off them when they wheel in great shape-shifting ‘murmurations’ from the spire of St. Mary’s Church in Penzance, across the tiny harbour where the big boats sail through the very road into the dry dock. But now my attention is caught by the extraordinary aftermath of the recent storms, which have torn great slabs and boulders of granite off the sea wall and hurled them onto the beach. I am still a bit heady having seen you and Lynda in my favourite part of the Highlands, just two days ago. I am warm from the embrace of the two of you, and realise how much I miss our chinwags.
    Lynda’s new build, is glorious and I see your hand in it, and who could boast a better view than the two of you. I love the blog; had thought to start one myself a couple of years ago here in Penzance, but the discipline of it and the know-how escaped me. I see that the storyteller in you has found an appropriate medium to share the delights of Highland life with us. That’s wonderful. Thank you for including the Herberts in your world, Wally would be honoured, as I am. Kari’s talk at Pitlochry Festival Theatre was generously received by a really lovely audience. I know why Wally felt that his heart was in the Highlands. Although short, my visit with Nell and Kari was just glorious. And now, that you extend an invitation to join you there, through the blog, life gets better and better.

    • …across the tiny harbour where the big boats sail through the very road into the dry dock…

      Wonderful description of your place Marie – and wonderful to see you.. ooer i feel a story coming on ..

      The Queen under the hill watched as the fishermen left her shores, the hairs on her pelt stiffening. She watched through the centuries as the Corns sailed out to meet her cold skinned sister under the sea. She watched as her sister queen seduced her menfolk with fair winds and calm water, and grieved as she thrashed and roared and pulled them to herself.
      She had seen them born and nurtured in the cottages along the shore. She breathed in the house trees, slipped through the mortar courses, attending on their births and their mannings.
      Her anger grew and with it her body and beauty cramped in the old mines until the day she wound herself round the columns of rock beneath the sea and brought them crashing down. She seated herself on a rubble throne. The seaqueen swept in to her, wings outspread as a giant ray, sting poised.
      ‘My sister queen you are out of place. My men can fish no more- your people need to eat’
      ‘They will not starve under my rule, but your stewardship is cruel, my sister. My people need respite’
      ‘Very well my sister. If you create a channel, even one that crosses the highway used by your people, my seafarers can cross to your ground to visit your world – at Drydoc- for repair and recovery before returning to my realm.’
      The earth queen nodded and turned in her coiled majesty – grinding across rock as she returned to her home beneath the cliffs, gouging a channel leading from the seas to the hill.
      Here fishermen bring their boats to visit her to this day, paying brief court before returning to endure the whims of the watery monarch.
      Her manyfaceted eyes fill with their leaving.

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