Cuckoo song

Making use of the long evenings and the fine weather, we went out to Scorhill, our local stone circle. On Dartmoor, where blocks of granite erupt invitingly from every tor and tummock, it seems a bit superfluous to go to the bother of arranging them yourself, but Scorhill has a bleak grandeur all of its own. I get why they did it.

Now, it is the last obvious human touch before the forbidding expanse of the high moor, still snow-bleached despite the spring. When it was built, this would have been forest. Its construction marked the beginning of an unstoppable ecological change, a process of deforestation that bequeathed us the Dartmoor we know today.

While we were there, a cuckoo bugled in the distance until he was hoarse. His song made a descending minor third, rather than than the more usual major, a shift that gave it an extra sinister twist. For, like all his kind, he was a murderer before he even left the nest: savagery amidst the beauty.


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