Thursday, June 23, 2011

Soundings


Down at the peat bank, this morning, we fell into an easy rhythm of cutting and throwing.  As we worked, I became aware of the sounds of that dance.  The steady slice of the tarisker as it cut through the moist chocolate coloured peat, the occasional rasp and twang as it  hit the rootier sections, and the gentle bump as the peat blocks landed on the bank. Slice - bump - slice- bump- rasp- rasp- twang


Straightening up, we are aware of our own breathing, a bit heavier now because of our exertions, and we are then surrounded by a chorus of skylarks - serenading us from high above; descending swiftly to check on their nests built in the soft grasses of the moorland.  The incessant sound of the chicks chirping in the nests drown out their parents sweet song as they clamour for food.
There is the occasional sound of traffic passing on the long straight road - slightly more now that the tourist season is in full swing.  A neighbour drives by, tooting his horn; curious holidaymakers slow down to watch us; cyclists whoosh past, calling out their greetings.
The glug, glug of tea being poured from the flask, and then quickly back to work.
Slice, bump, slice,bump...
It is a fine dance on such a still day.





At the croft, there are different sounds to accompany our tasks.  More skylarks - cousins no doubt, of the peat bank larks, but still as delightful to hear.  A cockerel crowing or dog barking pierces the silence.  Distant traffic can be heard now and again; occassionaly the low rumble of a car crossing the cattle grid at the entrance to the village,  Sheep calling for their lambs, and young bullocks lowing in a nearby field. Sometimes there will be the clip clop of horses hooves as our neighbour walks her horses.  Washing snaps on a line, drying quickly in the breeze, starlings chatter and whirl  around in their huge extended family flocks and a far off whistle sounds from the hills, as a shepherd tells his dog to come bye
It is a wonderful symphony that surrounds us.


And in the midst of these dim midsummer nights, we might wake and hear the crexx -crexx of the corncrake in the field outside the window.

Sshhh - listen!  What do you hear?

16 comments:

  1. What a beautiful country you live in! When I am outside I hear quail and chickens peeping, roosters crowing, wild birds chirping and once in awhile a jet will fly past. I too have clothes flapping on the line which is a joy in my day. I do love living in the country!

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  2. Oh skylarks! Always wanted to see and hear them! What lovely descriptions -I can easily imagine what you are hearing and feeling. Thank you.

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  3. Wonderful.
    I love to hear skylarks, it is such a beautifully happy song they sing.
    Today I can hear nothing but rain! It's a wonderful sound though, even though the washing won't get dry!xxx

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  4. I have heard of peat banks before, but was truly aware of what went on. How fascinating! I went back and read your previous post and oggled the pictures, there, too.

    This is quite fascinating! Thank you for sharing.

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  5. What a wonderful, thoughtful post. I'm eager to do some lilstening now!

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  6. Great post, have you done a more detailed post about peat gathering somewhere. How long do you need to dry it, rules about collecting etc . I would be intrigued to know.

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  7. Lovely :-)

    Made me smile to see the bog reeds too, I remember as a child, picking them and then using my nail to gently slice them open for the soft "down" in the that runs through them... and weaving them together to make little baskets etc, that I'd leave out for the pixies :-)

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  8. You are a brilliant writer. I felt that I was really there with you on the peat bank.It's quite early here yet.The sun is only just rising and there's not much noise.A rooster crowing, a car in the distance , a plane flying over and Mark making bread in the kitchen.

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  9. Do you burn the peat that you cut, is it monitored in some way? x

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  10. Thank you for that lovely poem of sounds! Your words just wove a little web of peace and sublimity around me for a moment--I felt that I was right there with you.

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  11. the symphony of nature. really beautiful. thanks for taking us there.

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  12. Wonderful....
    And, I checked out the link for the corncrake. How wonderful!!! Not too many recovery stories and it was so uplifting to read about all the efforts to bring this bird back.

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  13. Wonderful....
    And, I checked out the link for the corncrake. How wonderful!!! Not too many recovery stories and it was so uplifting to read about all the efforts to bring this bird back.

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  14. Thank you. I am glad you all enjoyed my soundscape.
    I have done a couple of peat posts, but I am planning to do a picture tutorial style post or page, once we have finished, as I need to take a few more photographs of the process . I am pleased at the interest. John was sown doing some tidying up at the bank, when a tour bus stopped and he became a tourist attraction - lol.
    DG, yes we do burn it in winter - it will run the central heating and hot water, and not sure what you mean by monitored, but if you are a Crofter, then you have access to a peat bank. No one cuts more than they need for the winter fuel - it is physically very hard work and time consuming too, especially when we have all been so held back by the weather.
    Meggs - yes the corncrake is a wonderful success story - I feel very privileged to be woken in the middle of the night by them.

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  15. Well we have journeyed once around the sun together. I remember when I first started reading your blog that you were working with the peat. Your writing is so poetic but at the same time gives such merit to such hard work.
    We have been listening to the beautiful chirping of the cicadas. They only sing when it's very warm. At night we hear the bull frogs croaking. During the day we have the red hawk family and the mother is a whiny woman who will not stop squealing but then if she did I would miss her.

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