Lambing season always fills me with a particular kind of joy; my most recent painting span out of a chance sighting of newborns in a field flooded with late-afternoon sunlight that skimmed the field at such an acute angle that the fleecy coats of the ewes and their tiny followers were quite iridescent with light. So determined was I to capture the scene (on my phone – which was all I had with me at the time, being on the way back from school pick-up) that I drove a mile or so to the the nearest turning point and came all the way back to find somewhere that I could safely abandon my car – without blocking the narrow country lane – near to the field’s edge where I stood on tip-toe, snapping away for ten minutes or more (my daughter, who is used to this erratic behaviour, standing next to me enjoying the scene)!
A similar thing happened on Wednesday towards the end of an impromptu trip to the Cotswolds. We spent the day in and around Chipping Campden, so gorgeous a find of a place that it deserves its own post (once I’ve processed the photos), however it was on the drive out of the tiny village of Broad Campden that we came across a field full of sheep with lambs on a hillside. It was the way the dramatic cloud formations (left over from a day of sudden showers and hail storms interspersed with glorious sunshine) had gathered as the backdrop to this field of sheep that had me jumping out of the car to take photos and it wasn’t until I got up to the gate that I spotted a ewe with two new-born lambs, one of which had so recently arrived that she was still cleaning its tiny form which was so immobile on the ground that I was left involuntarily holding me breath as I awaited its first signs of life. The other lamb watched-on, as did what I took to be a sort of opinionated-auntie of a ewe who stood there watching the whole of these proceedings, her head held at an authoritative angle as she bleated out a constant stream of what I assumed to be “words” of encouragement to her newly-maternal friend as her own well-established lambs ambled around unattended.
Even without a zoom lens in the “kit” I was carrying, I managed to capture the whole of the proceedings in a series of frames and have put them together into a slide show that sees the tiny newborn sit up ears a-twitching, make its first effort to stand, fall over and upside down with legs akimbo and then stand up once again so that, by the time I left the scene, the siblings were a matching pair stood side-by-side. The patient, loving care provided by mummy-ewe and encouraging intervention of opinionated-auntie added a tenderness to a scene that was already filled with all the magic and wonder that accompanies a birth and the whole encounter was, for me, the highlight of an excellent day out.