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Out of the Shadows


Paths past garden gates, those neglected places where stinging nettles and wild flowers thrive. Next to a railway line and over a stream that is obscured from view throughout town; behind the houses, buried under streets, channeled through concrete, feeding into the Ouse somewhere in the Railway Land. It’s running high and fast now as winter’s rain drains from the Downs into the overflowing chalk aquifiers deep below. Alleyways, brick walls, fences, hedges, sneaking around the edge of town. Edgelands, the liminal places. A smattering of colour amongst the trees beside the chalk path. Guerrilla gardening or seeds fleeing from manicured lawns and tidy beds? Past the back of the prison and up through the tunnel of trees to the race course, the track rutted and pockmarked with hoof prints. Out of the shadows into the sunshine and wind.

Ahead, something is riding on that wind. A raptor of some kind? Definitely not a crow or magpie, maybe a buzzard. The tail flicks round, forked, then a flash of red as the sun catches it’s torso. A red kite, wow! Not seen one of these here before and never seen one so close. Stop to watch. Ten, fifteen metres away, a metre from the ground, then further up to catch the breeze and hunt along the ridge. Hassled by a crow it circles up into the sunlight, silhouetted, splayed feathers at the wing tips, definitely a forked tail. Yes, a ride kite. Glides down on the other side of the track, surfs the wind along the hillside. I watch until it is little more than a dot fading into the blue.


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