Martin's spoon traced the figures of ancient China etched in the landscape of the blue willow plate of breakfast cereal. A thought scurried across his mind. ‘One day I will go there’.
He paused for a moment, to catch the morning sunlight filtering through the laced curtain and turned to his aunt standing by the stove.
' Auntie , please, please may I leave the table?'
An approving wink set him free.
He darted across the chequered red and black tiled floor, stuffed his feet into plimsolls, rattled the grated door mat on the front step and spilled into the farmyard.
The sharp bite of the Derry air, fresh from the Rock Heads that dipped in the North Atlantic blew away the last cobweb of sleep.
A cock crowed somewhere behind the byre. Racing across the yard he scattered pecking hens and miffed, stiff necked geese. Stones spat sideways.
At the end of the lane the burn emerged, burbling brown from underneath, honeyed from the rainfall and drainage off the peat, moss moors. The hedges sculptured by the North winds hemmed in the gate. He climbed to the top, hooked his feet between two bars and cupped his hands.
He called once then again.
"Sukey, Sukey, come on, come on. Sukey, Sukey, come on, come on. "
He watched the cows, some sat, their to and fro of the chewed cud, like silent sentinels. Others grazed then paused and gazed , their heads rose and those seated stood. Then like great galleons charting an uncharted sea they came in rank and file down the pastures , bloated udders swinging, tails swiping , cuds chewing.
Martin dragged open the gate and counted them as they passed. Some had names. He had favourite ones. The Jersey and the Charolais. Through the mudded gate they ploughed, the slap and pop of cow dung murdered the yard. The daily milking ritual had started.