Saturday, 15 November 2014

Heads Up

There's something about the colours of the hedgerows, the shapes of the vegetation withdrawing into winter dormancy, and the tricksy lighting effects at this time of year that can bring out a Border Ballad sensibility in even the most stolidly rational observer.  There's an eeriness, a faint folk-memory of tales of enchantment and abduction amplified by more contemporary, tabloid anxieties; it all presses some atavistic button that puts the mind onto constant, peripheral alert.  A sudden blackbird, a falling acorn, a snapping twig...  Wait, what was that?

Usually, of course, it's nothing.  But in the photograph below a small herd of fallow deer has just run from left to right, pattering through the undergrowth like a shower of rain.  I was too busy photographing the uptorn chalky tree roots to catch them in time.  I suppose it might have been the Wild Hunt, or Tam Lin, but...


Martyn Cornell said...

Reading that, I suddenly thought: "Why FALLOW deer?" The OED provides: "Of a pale brownish or reddish yellow colour, as withered grass or leaves. Obs. exc. of the coat of an animal; now chiefly in fallow-deer n. Old English falu, … Old High German falo (modern German fahl, falb)… probably cognate with Greek πολιός grey, Latin pallēre to be pale." So there we are.

Mike C. said...


True, it had never occurred to me, either -- I think in the back of mind I had the image (often seen from a train window in Hampshire) of deer standing in a fallow field.