A weekend in the north always leaves me with tales to tell…and this one is no exception. In fact, though it was a short weekend, it was a remarkable couple of days. There are tales of close encounters… of sacred hills, stone circles, dark magic and friendship… stories of flame and passion beneath a blue moon… and I will share them all.
But not right now. A long drive back, several hours with my son before coming home to the usual sensory overload of the inboxes and an Admin screen that has decided to resize itself to a font so small I can barely read it, made the evening a very long one. By the time I’d cleared the backlog, it was after ten… the work was only just starting, while I was wilting rapidly and ready for bed.
The weekend started for me on Friday with a fabulous dawn… the colours incredible and making me wonder what the weather was planning on throwing at me on the drive north. I needn’t have worried…it was a glorious day. Everywhere the leaves are donning their autumnal gowns and the world is painted in shades of russet, red and gold set against the deep green of England’s heart.
I drove through a tunnel of beech, about an hour from home. Not far…less than thirty miles… but the roads I take are narrow and winding and far too beautiful to rush. There is one place here where there are often red kites and I looked up at the skeletal branches of an ancient tree, wishing that one day, a kite would perch there long enough for me to try to get a photograph. You know, that photograph… the crystal clear one that never quite happens…
…and I’d shot past the one place to park before it registered that today, there was a red kite in the tree, watching the remains of a badger on the road. I turned into a track, found somewhere to turn the car around, all the while pleading with the great bird to stay put.
And it did… just for a few seconds, just long enough to switch on the camera, zoom to the topmost branch and meet its eye. It saw me… probably heard me talking to it through the open window…and allowed me three photographs before sailing out of view.
By this time, I was bouncing… and the thought of having to wait till Monday to see if I really had caught a half-decent photo was awful. But I had been eye to eye with a red kite. They sail above my home every day, birds with wingspans greater than my height. They perch in the treetops just out of camera range and play cat-and-mouse with me. They have even taunted me from my own rooftop when I’ve had my hands full of bags or dog… but this kind of moment is a gift and they choose when it will be given.
I could stalk them, set up the camera on the tripod and lie in wait…but that does not seem right. You can call me daft, but a moment given is not at all the same as a picture taken. Some moments are just meant to be experienced, lived and enjoyed, not recorded. But sometimes they can be shared… it is a long time since they have given me such a moment.
After that, there were kites, kestrels and buzzards all the way north, one after the other. As far as I was concerned, that could only mean there would be a good weekend ahead… and so it proved to be.
From mists on the moors, to autumn’s first flames and foxfire in the night… it was magical…