In the back seat The Urchins were bouyant. #’money, money, money’, they chorused, ‘it’s a rich man’s wuuu’. ‘Daddy, your singing’s rubbish.’ News just in cherubs…….They had discovered Abba, and there was nothing else worth listening to, especially in the car. But I had to make a call.
‘Mummy,’ chirped Urchin the Younger, ‘I can go my bike without stabilisers!’ Pride burst from the little voice in the back, at last, excitement even. We were on our way back from the park, and they had been all the way round the loch, many wobbles, few mishaps. It was a loch that was no stranger to mishap, as I mused on that day, many years back, when I had overturned a Canadian canoe, subjecting all three occupants to a swimming lesson, for the whole five yards back to the jetty. These days we stay firmly on dry land, even when they get a bit keen on duck-feeding duty.
#’ as ah called you last night from Glaazgooo’, and so we meandered on, under skies of gathering gloom, air still. There was plenty of noise in the car, but outside it was quiet. The road was one of those little ones, with passing places, and twists and bends, ups and downs. We knew it well, passed the crossroads and down the hill before climbing up again.
In the dip was a little bridge, in cast iron, more meccano than parapet. Underneath the burn burbled away, waters not high today. Horses grazed, and dozed; the bay slept, in that way they have of looking dead, stretched out, head flat on the ground. Then it happened, the eclipse, and it went dark, just for a second or two.
The heron is ungainly in flight, un-reminiscent of that monument to anglers everywhere, still and silent, patient, eyes only for a flash in the waters swirling round those lanky legs. I caught a beady eye on the way past, the legs flailed, and then the light returned.
I had not seen the bird on the side of the bridge; he may have emerged from beneath. Why he chose to make his escape across our path, at windscreen height, was beyond me. Perhaps we had disturbed a post-lunch nap. In the still air, with no other apparent noise around, one may have expected him to hear two litres of turbo diesel before we were upon him. But perhaps not for engines are quiter now, and few sound like London cabbies any more.
‘Da-aad, put the bikes away, can I put the wii on?’ and little footsteps took the well-worn path to the telly. As the garage door raised, so a little white fur ball escaped, miaowing heavily. That’ll be more cat pee on the office ceiling then. But it was a day to remember, as I noticed the stabilisers in the corner.