Drawing and Illusion: Chickens and Soldiers
Pembrokeshire summers are usually moist and cool, with just the occasional spell of hot weather, so the long hot summer we have experienced this year has taken everyone by surprise. The sky above our house is full of swallows, swifts and martins.
The ancients thought swallows noisey birds because of their constant chatter and as the summer reaches its peak there are noisy flocks of 40 or 50 young birds passing over the landscape. I think these young birds are already beginning their journey south whilst their parents stay to hatch another brood for departure in September.
In the evening, when office work is done, I often go and sit amongst the dry grasses in a small meadow .
Usually I am alone, perhaps one of the feral cats my wife feeds will be washing herself in the evening sun, maybe she spent her day sleeping in the shade and like me is enjoying the gentle afterglow of the long hot day. Sometimes I settle in front of a chicken coop which my neighbour wheels round the field. At first the chickens were visibly annoyed by my presence, when I moved a leg or turned my paper they would erupt, scattering and flapping to the far end of their cage where they huddled against the wire in an over-anxious bundle of clucking disapproval.
But chickens are social beasts, and easily seduced, so it was not long before they changed their view of my visits, and now they will greet me when I arrive. They come and sit with their bodies pressed towards me, making sweet mewing sounds and watching me with their mysterious chicken eyes.
I have discovered they share my passion for grass; if I poked a blade into the coop they will rush forward, pecking and fighting to be the first to grab the seeded head with their sharp beaks, and then the winner will run to a far corner to gobble their prize before another chicken has time to grab it from them.
I am sorry to say the cockerels know little about chivalry, they are always the first in line and they do not mind to peck the poor hens that get too close. There are two rather sleek dappled grey cockerels with misleadingly noble faces.
Sometimes I am visited by insects, like this very pretty fly with speckled brown wings that at first looked like a common house fly. She stayed on my drawing pad for quite a while.
With best wishes