SEPTEMBER - THE MIST IN THE MORNING, THE SUNSHINE AT NOON, THE CHILL OF THE EVENING BENEATH HARVEST MOON.
A perfect autumn day! The leaves are changing colour and curling their edges. The berries are turning orange, red and purplish black. The swallows have left us here at Stempster. We miss you - haste ye back! This morning a single crow chattered away to us as we turned the corner by the broch. I wondered if he, or she, is a direct descendant of the crows who watched the broch being built in the Iron Age. Sometimes I think it would be a good idea to revisit my childhood playground in the Isle of Axholme and introduce myself to the little creatures which live there now. I would explain that their antecedents and I were very close and that, for example, the robin visiting our feeders here in Caithness is compared with the one hopping, skipping and jumping through the hedgerow in my grandparents' garden down Belshaw Lane in Belton.
It was there and the area between Burnham Beck and Studcross in Epworth, where I lived as a small child, that I became familiar with all the small things and the growing things and the wonder of our natural world. The smell of fruit in the orchard, the glorious mixture of leaves on the damp earth and the mist in the morning ahead of the sun, are all etched in my memory. I shall never forget the blackberrying with Granny Ivy or Grandad Bobby showing me the mounds of leaves where hedgehogs bunked down for the winter months.
Now my little granddaughter observes the butterflies, the beetles and the bats in our northern home. She looks to the heavens to see the stars and the bright moon above her. I watch her watching them and I find a marvellous peace.
Because we live here in Caithness, we sometimes are given vouchers for presents as we are so far away from many family members and friends that an exchange of gifts is difficult. We put ours together - there are five of us living here - and bought trail cameras and batteries. At first we saw birds, then moths, then bats and then something unidentifiable close up to the camera. One misty, rainy morning earlier this month, we caught a beautiful female deer and the pointy ears of something close by. We have seen deer on the camera since then - on the roadside and in our "wildwood". Once there were three together and one jumped over the flagstone wall into our garden. But, going through the footage one September weekend, the conversation went something like this: