I spent last weekend in Perthshire, with a lovely group of friends. I thoroughly enjoyed their company; there were lively conversations, with discussions on topics ranging from the independence referendum, the definition of tesselation, some recipe swapping and reminders on how to stay safe when hill-walking.
Some of the weekend was spent alone, walking along the old railway line from Killin to the end of Loch Tay. It was a grey day, and it drizzled on and off, but there was still much to see. I sat under an old oak tree, nearly into full leaf, wondering if the beech further along might provide shelter if the rain became heavier. I sat still and looked. the light on the loch changed as I watched. My awareness of this was heightened by the fact that I was doing some watercolour sketching, and had to adjust the dark and light areas of the loch quite regularly. A heron flew past, from my left to my right - low and slow and graceful above the water. It landed further along the loch bank, behind some shrubs. A couple of pairs of mallard ducks were very busy in the reeds about twenty feet away, dabbling and diving in the shallow water. A birdwatcher came past - we chatted for a while. He had been watching a redstart, and trying to get a good photograph of it. I quizzed him about another bird I had seen flying to and fro above the water, wings beating very fast, calling shrilly and tilting from side to side very quickly. He thought it might be a redshank. I shall consult my bird book.
I would have seen none of this, had I marched along the lochside. There is merit, sometimes, in being still.