Saturday, 22 November 2008

Eyes at tea-time

Now the night comes in so early, making a cup of tea at 5 involves walking by torchlight across the croft from the studio to the caravan and back. The studio is wood-stove snuggly, but today it has barely edged above freezing outside and last night's fall of hail and snow hasn't melted at all.

The caravan is at ambient temperature, so I keep my coat and gloves on to fill the kettle and as it boils the steam billows like an old locomotive chimney. I stew the tea in the pot then pour it into a thermos flask and head back to the studio. I realise some people would find this lifestyle uncomfortable, but it has its magic.

On the way to the caravan, something rustled in the rushes close to the path and scampered away. I swept arcs with my torch until I hooked a pair of glints, a pair of eyes reflecting the light. They seemed low to the ground but I couldn't tell at that distance what was looking back at me through the vegetation. I murmured to it and it held my gaze. I swang the beam around and picked out two more pairs of twinkles, then walked on.

On the way back to the studio, I hear another scuffle near to the old ruin and the swish of animals moving through long heather. I scan with the beam. Two eyes gleam. It's three roe deer, right there, two with their white rumps catching the light and the other one looking straight at me. The other two deer turn their heads and, for a moment, six little dishes of light shine in the dark. Then three reflective rumps mark their bouncing path as they bound away over the brae and into the lochside woods.

Back at the studio, I strip off the warm gear and sit down to a nice cup of Darjeeling, knowing just why I don't miss the convenience of being able simply to hit a switch in the kitchen when I want a cup of tea.

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