A burn in the hand

Most mornings I do the same walk with Bertie – thanks to the generosity of our neighbours, who invited us to walk him through their field up by the burn and over the moorland, so long as we keep him away from the sheep. Which is easy, so long as no rabbits he’s chasing head in an ovine direction…

It might be pretty much the same walk every day, but it’s always different. And things seem to be changing pretty rapidly at the moment.

The terrain underfoot is completely different from a month ago – all three of the different heathers are now in evidence: the bright magenta of the bell heather, the feminine pretty-pink of the cross-leaved heath, and the tiny newly emerging white and pink of the ling. Bog asphodel, too, is shooting up like bright orange stars reaching for the sky – I reckon that a bit of time-lapse photography of this plant growing would look like fireworks going off.

Most of the waders have now moved off the moorland, nesting and raising babies done. We can now do the walk without being constantly harangued by oystercatchers, their incessant calling drowning out all other noise. Sitting still for a few moments while Bert had his head down a rabbit hole, though, I could hear a distant plover calling, possibly a golden, but thin and reedy enough to be his smaller cousin the ringed.

Down by the burn itself, where it cuts in under the hill, I got out of the wind and listened for a few moments to its burbling where it’s squeezed into tight bottlenecks no more than a foot across, and where Bertie likes to jump from side to side. Sometimes you can see the fish – brown trout – well, you see something moving incredibly fast just below the surface and occasionally a ‘plop’ and a ripple as it pops up. But I couldn’t claim to have truly seen the fish itself.

And though sometimes – especially when getting up at 6.30am to get everything done before work – walking Bert feels like a bit of a chore, and I ponder how nice it would be to be able to go somewhere different, instead of the same old walk, deep down I know how lucky we are to have this on our doorstep. So I give myself a mental shake and tell myself to appreciate what we have.

Then Bertie emerged from his rabbit hole, covered in mud and peaty mouthed, shaking himself all over me, so breaking my poetic reverie and bringing me back to the reality of day-to-day life and the fact that I had to get him back and cleaned up and get myself to work. Not such a poetic end to my walk…


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