Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Silence is golden

May 20th, 2007

FRESH IDEAS from a young mind are entertaining and stimulating, so I was pleased when grandson James joined me to walk the dogs. We took the track through the woods to the small loch that lies about three quarters of a mile behind the house. I wanted to see if the pair of cormorants I wrote about some weeks back were still there.

There was no sign of the birds, so we leant our elbows on the gate and had a  hing' while we contemplated the view. There's a rickle of dead branches not far off. There must be some very beckoning scents beneath it because the dogs make a beeline for it each time I walk them there.

It was fine standing in companionable silence – we didn't need to talk all the time to know we were enjoying the moment. It's a happy landscape we live in with so much to see and hear that quiet reflection is one of the best ways to take it all in. Soon enough the noise of Macbeth's efforts to get deeper and deeper in beneath the branches, and Inka's efforts to follow him, broke the spell and we headed for home along the side of the burn. Several years ago I taught James to make a whistle with a blade of grass stretched between his thumbs. He decided to whistle up the wind and the quiet was shattered with the shrill screech of the vibrating grass. It obviously struck a chord with the cattle on the far side of the field which galloped across to investigate the strange sound. Perhaps there's a fortune there for him if he can patent a grass whistle to “call the cattle home”.We spoke about his ideas for the future and he thought an outdoors life was more to his liking than a desk-bound job. I've done a bit of both and I can understand his preference.We watched swallows swooping and diving just inches from the ground, feeding hard on airborne insects to see them through the night. Most of their lives are spent on the wing and it's staggering to think there's so much energy stored in such a small frame, and that it's fuelled only by flying beasties. As we got back into the wood we heard the most awful commotion coming from somewhere above our heads. At first I thought it must be small songbirds mobbing a jackdaw or a jay which was threatening eggs or chicks. We investigated and found that the noise was coming from a hole about twelve feet up the trunk of a beech tree. It was a nest of very vocal nestlings hungrily waiting on the parent birds to return with the next course for tea. I went back later and watched jackdaws flying in and out, so that was our answer.             







Written on Sunday, May 20th, 2007 at 1:23 pm for Weekly.