Chris Vest

Digital Painting Prints

The swallow tree

When the wind was from the west the aspen crackled upwards, as if flames were eating it from below. And when the wind was from the west the same silver leaves purred down from the tips to the trunk. It was only in the westerly wind, gusting in from the foam-topped brown sea, that the swallows came to the aspen; surfing through the eddying cold fire; riding the swirling smoke of the tree. When the wind was from the east they stayed away, preferring to play by the liveliest stretch of the river, where reed gave way to stone.

But it was only in this last week that they had played at all, and even now they did not know why they did it. Through the long heavy days of summer they had been frantic; beating low over the hot fields; dogging the heels of the cattle to catch the flies they kicked up from the grass; graceful and desperate to kill. When the light faded, they moved up to the next slice of sky, and the martins rose a tier to accommodate them. When at last the first stars blinked, and the only hunting to be done was by the night things and the swifts which hunted the vortices at the very edge of the air, the swallows went back to their barns and byres to wait for the sun.

Now, though, it was different. Something big was about to happen, and the compulsion now was to celebrate rather than eat.    [more …]

Charles Foster

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