The Peregrine

The Peregrine - Rik Rawling C.2012

One of my favourite books is J.A Baker’s The Peregrine. He was a lonely and wounded man, with the soul of a poet and the eye of a naturalist, which makes his documenting of observations made in the Essex edgelands of the mid-1960’s so remarkable:

I have always longed to be part of the outward life, to be out there at the edge of things, to let the human taint wash away in emptiness and silence, as the fox sloughs his smell into the world into the cold unworldliness of water; to return to the town as a stranger. Wandering flushes a glory that fades with arrival.

Cold air rises from the ground as the sun goes down.  The eye-burning clarity of the light intensifies. The southern rim of the sky glows to a deeper blue, to pale violet, to purple, then thins to grey.  Slowly the wind falls, and the still air begins to freeze.  The solid eastern ridge is black; it has a bloom on it like the dust on the skin of a grape.  The west flares briefly.  The long, cold amber of the afterglow casts clear black lunar shadows.  There is an animal mystery in the light that sets upon the fields like a frozen muscle that will flex and wake at sunrise.

And, finally, my favourite:

Wherever he goes, this winter, I will follow him. I will share the fear, the exaltation, and the boredom of the hunting life. I will follow him till my predatory human shape no longer darkens in terror the shaken kaleidoscope of colour that stains the deep fovea of his brilliant eye. My pagan head shall sink into the winter land, and there be purified.

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