Walking Home by Starlight

The current dry weather has continued today, supported by the extensive anti-cyclone firmly anchored over the Atlantic west of the Outer Hebrides. This is good news for PTS’s plans for the weekend, which involve a large bonfire, a Burns Night supper without the car and a good long walk on Sunday.

The mornings and evenings are definitely getting lighter and the dark of winter finally seems to be passing us by. I got home this evening to find that not only were the chooks (with the exception of the habitual tree-roosting black hen-chook) securely in their coop, with Chalky’s feathery backside pointing towards the inquisitive eye at their wee door, but also the geese had decided to make their way back into their pen without any intervention from a man waving a torch and making strange noises at them. The geese seem very settled at the moment, although there has been a small change to the morning routine which still seems to puzzle them: I am now putting down their bucket of grain in the usual place before I release them from the pen. They then come out honking and, wings flapping, dash up towards the corner of the paddock several feet to the right of the grain bucket. It is then some little while before they spot the bucket and make for their breakfasts. The change is that I used to let them out and then go to get the grain, by which time they had overcome the excitement of liberty and were waiting for me in the right place. It will be interesting to see if they learn to go for the grain, or whether I learn why the run to the corner is so important to them.

I took my kilt down to a lady in the village this evening to have it adjusted in girth. Unlike most people’s kilts around here, which seem unaccountably to shrink, mine seems to have stretched and needs the buckles shifting. By way of payment we have agreed a box of best free-range eggs. They have a three-legged tom cat, who is a sweet old beast, and it was a pleasure to tickle a moggy under the chin again. I find it reasonably easy to forget how much I actually miss some things, like the cat back in Somerset and the Queen of the Chooks herself. I suppose a more romantic chap than PTC would reverse the order of the previous items, but my excuse is that the narrative required the prevailing feline subject to be exhausted before introducing the novel one of the most delightful lady of my heart.

So, back to the subject of the title and the introduction to this piece. The skies are clear tonight and the stars are stunning to behold. There is very little light here and no streetlights, so the stars have the whole show to themselves. Orion was rising as I penned the geese this evening, and by the time of writing, the Hunter is astride the whole of the southern sky looking down the glen. The Milky Way is clearly-visible and girdles the sky from west to east. The sky itself is surprisingly bright against the hills, even before moonrise, and their was enough light from ancient nuclear fission falling on this part of Scotland for me to see my way home quite clearly along the road. Glorious.


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