Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Murder on the Moor

Looking out of my shed window I can see a stunning sunset, with skeletal trees etched against a flaming red and orange sky. I like winter sunsets here, because we are on a lowland moor and have big skies that are often dramatic. We also get a vast murmuration (isn’t that a great collective noun?) of starlings wheeling about, formation flying towards their night time roosts in the sedges that line the rhines (pronounced ‘reens’, the local term for drainage ditches). I’ve always thought that the collective noun for starlings should be ‘a screech’ or, better still, ‘a squabble’ because they are noisy, quarrelsome little buggers. But as they are related to mynah birds, they are great mimics that can fool you into thinking your ’phone is ringing or that someone has let off a car alarm.
We also get charms of goldfinches. Best of all for this blog, a murder of crows and an unkindness of ravens are also regulars. I could go on, there are loads of charming terms for birds, but as I could well be alone in my love of the collective noun – I’ll move on.
The sheep in the field behind are busy dropping lambs, and I can hear their plaintive bleating even as I type. The lambs are tiny at present; some were born last night. That’s why a murder of crows has been about, clearing up the afterbirth. Crows are one of England’s answers to the vulture, keeping the landscape clean and hygenic by eating carrion.
I have just finished another long day at the typeface, trying to finish the second draft of Alone by the end of the month. I think I’ll make it, and three rousing cheers for that. I don’t know about you lot, but by the time I get to this stage of a book, I am so tired of the damned thing I could spit. It’s just as well I have deadlines to work towards, otherwise my rattle would fly out of my pram, and I’d head for the hills at a gallop (the mistress of the mixed metaphor!)
Still, as evening approaches, I can sit and stare past the screen of my Mac at the sky, the lambs and the birds, happy in the knowledge that this day’s graft is almost over. Just this blog to finish, some bread to bake and some bell peppers to stuff with feta cheese, black olives and the odd slice of tomato. But first, I can read a few chapters of Alexander McCall Smith’s latest collection of tales from Edinburgh’s Scotland Street. That man is a total and utter poppet and I just love his gentle wit.
Have a good week one and all. That’s not an instruction, I hasten to add – merely a suggestion.