Tuesday, 1 December 2015

December - "a chord of starlings"

The coming of winter. From Wild Hares and Hummingbirds,  Simon Moss.

"The next morning Jack Frost has returned with a vengeance, and now the scenery really has turned whiter-than-white; white trees, white hedgerows, white grass, white roofs and white sky. This is landscape in crystal form, only punctuated by the staccato notes of black birds as they dash across the sky or gather in the fields: chords of starlings, followed by the occasional crow, jackdaw or rook.  And one brief splash of colour: a flock of goldfinches, whose crimsons and golds illuminate the landscape like a coloured frame added to an old black-and-white film.

Gwyngyed Mountain, Winter   Ogwyn Davies
©  University of Aberystwyth

Later, as the sun sets over Brent Knoll, a low ridge of colour hangs over the Mendips, while a darker, more menacing wave arrives from the west.  A strong, full moon begins to rise, gradually illuminating the flat, white landscape.  A lone buzzard perches on top of a hawthorn hedge, surveying his misty kingdom.  Apart from a distant dog barking, and the hum of the milking parlour at Perry Farm, all is quiet; when it is as cold as this, no bird will waste energy in song.  In the rhyne by the farm a lone heron stands rigid on the ice, as if fixed permanently to the spot.  On catching sight of me he has just enough energy to flap those huge rounded wings and fly away.  I hope he finds some water, somewhere in this frozen land.

Soft, ghostlike, the mist surges westwards from the darkness, creating a blanket of vapour over the layer of snow beneath, like a counterpane laid carefully over a duvet.  As it finally covers the land, the tops of trees and hedgerows poke out as if grasping towards the last few minutes of daylight, before they too are swathed in the mist."

Winter series  Wilhelmina Barns-Graham
© the Barns-Graham Charitable Trust

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