Of hot fields, and clouds on a sunny day | 9 August 2018

It’s the summer holidays and my son is home from school. He’s a pretty self-sufficient boy for one who’s just turned 6 - Lego, reading, drawing are all things he loves to do, which is fortunate, as he’s an only child. But it also means that when my husband is working and I need to work too, it’s nice to find ways to include him, and to share my activities with him (beyond being my muse, to which he is increasingly resistant!). A year or so ago this involved buying him a camera (a Nikon Coolpix, which is waterproof, shockproof, and but sadly without a view finder), and subsequently a small (and cheap) field microscope, so that when I go out to take photos, he can join in and not be bored at every stop (parents, please note, this also involves a vast quantity of snacks, and his own rucksack with supplies and equipment!). After drawing some fossils we found in Walton on the Naze on Monday, and reading about them, we took a walk in the late afternoon sunshine, coinciding with golden hour, and a magnificent display of clouds. 

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We saw a deer, and a buzzard, and a stack of straw bales six times my son’s height (as he’s 1.14m tall I know the stack is just under 7 metres high - a countryside high-rise). 

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My camera was set on a fairly slow shutter speed, not ideal for wildlife photography, but I love how the deer moves and the blur lines up with its movement.

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I forgot that some of the paths are overgrown with stinging nettles, which the summer’s heat hasn’t quite defeated, so we turned back from my intended route and walked back via the fields behind Church Farm, where we recently had a field fire (as I understand it, caused by the combine harvester hitting a flint, of which there is plenty). The field has been cleared, but the margins show damage; singed leaves, blackened bracken, burnt wheat. 

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 I used a 50mm macro lens if you’re interested in such things

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I found a red admiral camouflaged against one of the leaves, and waited and waited and waited (while my son made his way through the snacks) for it to open its wings. The hedgerow plants are brown and brittle, with scorched branches and trunks - valiant defenders of the final field behind the houses, and opposite our old church. Thanks to the fire service that’s where it stopped.

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Today the rain has come and the landscape will change once more. Green will return, puddles will refill, everything will glisten when the sun comes out again.

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