Despite the last few days of deliciously hot sunshine, Mother Nature cannot hide the fact that she is changing. The signs of summer’s cessation are everywhere; the façade of the days’ sun slipping away to reveal cloudless, chilly nights. Crisp leaves in cappuccino hues, edges curled and frayed, have begun to collect in corners. Where swallows once sat huddled up on make-shift perches, the space is now empty, but for a few late-summer juvenile wagtails, their adult feathers finally coming through. Autumn is waiting in the wings, ready to swoop in and take over from another year’s summer. espite the daily temperatures, the morning and evenings have left the ground thick with heavy dew and this morning, the breaths of the local villagers could be seen dissipating above their heads as they gossiped amongst themselves in little huddles.
I love autumn. It is the only season which is wholly reliable in Britain; you know when it will arrive and what it will bring. One brilliant aspect about the season are the sunsets. On a sunny day, autumnal sunsets are the best. Striking colours twinned with clear inky skies mean sky gazing is a must activity whenever possible. Last night was such an occasion, so I hopped in the car and headed towards Black Rock on the country roads in search of somewhere to enjoy that award-winning view.
Driving around the single lane windy roads, the sun began to drop rapidly behind the horizon so I pulled over at the nearest break in the hedge to watch the scene play out over Crowan. As I leant against the gate, watching the sky turn pink behind the church, I noticed an erratic flapping of a large white bird just four fields in front of me; the recognisable shape of a ban owl hunting for its dinner. I watched it circle repeatedly before it suddenly gathered its body together to form a sharp arrow and dived behind the wall. Hopping the 5-bar gate, I stumbled as quickly as possible through the long, wet grass, soaking my legs up to the knee in the evening dew. Trying to go as quickly as possible, I stuck close by the hedges so as not to draw attention to myself, silence surrounding me except for the occasional bleat of the nearby sheep. As I reached the last field, the bird had gone out of view. I heaved myself over the old Cornish wall, tentatively avoiding the broken barbed wire which jutted out, rusted after years of exposure, the orange, flaky iron bleeding onto the grey stone.
In the next field, the bird was gone. Clearly successful on its last dive, it had taken its dinner to a safe place to eat in peace. I wandered the field despite this, my eyes struggling in the failing light, the sky torn between the colours of the setting sun and the dark, cool night opposite. The air was still and heavy and I waited whilst the drama slowed and eventually
Turning back the way I came, I realised that I was completely alone. The swallows who had been barrel rolling low into the fields had vanished, the sheep had taken themselves off into shelters, to spend the night away in the warm and dry and the barn owl, had not returned. Heading in the direction of the road, I followed the light of the crescent moon back to my car.