Hare brains

Yesterday evening, just after supper, we watched a hare loping around the house just under the windows, not doing anything in particular, nibbling a bit here and there. For once, we thought to try and take a few photos, through rainy windows though so as not to frighten it away by opening them.

Later, walking Finbar before bedtime, the fox was there again by the boundary fence. All three of us were startled when a pair of barn owls swooped between us, screeching like banshees. Magic (again) !


The neighbour says they know,

they taste the air around the house

and sense a peaceful calm,

like birds that know the lazy cat, replete,

will not even stir a paw.

They come up close she says

when the house is still, the light is silent,

timid things that race away when danger strikes.

There’s something in the scent of meadow grass,

the scent of man-not-killer

around houses such as hers, as mine.

I watch the way she bends and parts the weeds,

not uprooting—they need their space too—

finger-skin cracked and black with ingrained earth,

how she listens to the song of every bird,

and in the slow, measured sweep of her hands

the bow of her back

through the crook of finger and the tilt of her head

she builds a place of safety





Sprung spring

First Sunday lunch outside this year. Hastily cleared away one lawnmower, one bicycle, a lot of plant pots waiting to have something done with the contents, and there we are, watching the pheasants of what turns out to be an established breeding colony (yay!) and their crazy aerial acts. I hesitate to call it flying…

sunday lunch 2

One hot dog getting a dose of sunshine.


Leaving the nest

The Daily Inkling prompt about the hardest nest-leaving prompted me to write about the last time I ever set foot in my parent’s home. I’ve never written about it before. It must be time.


There was a stillness about the house as if she had just gone upstairs, or out to buy the bread, an expectancy, a trail of her perfume in the air. I could almost hear her departing steps, the click of the door. My eyes went to the chair by the window that my dad hadn’t sat in for ten years. Exactly ten years. The symmetry was unbearable, as hard as the tidiness.

She had known before anyone even knew she was sick, terminally sick, that it was over, life, living, walking the hills with her friends, nattering with us all on the phone, always a visit planned. She had spent those last weeks folding the linen away neatly, cleaning out the fridge, throwing away everything that was worn or torn or would be of no use to anyone else. Afterwards.

She permeated the air particles with that faint scent of a perfume that nobody else wore. Nothing was out of place. Everything was clean, shelves dusted, the rental paid on the TV up to the end of the month. She had even renewed the subscription at the DVD place, up to the end of the month. By then, the funeral would be over and we would have all gone home.

I wept over every still, faintly perfumed corner of that house where I had never lived. It had been my parents’ house, where they lived. Their nest. But I realised then, in that moment of sitting in a front room that had never been mine, with siblings around me, together as we had so rarely been in that house, that the house didn’t matter. It could have been a pile of dust on the dark side of the moon, but that tidiness, that delicate thoughtfulness, the faint perfume that permeated it, made it home.

After the funeral, the house died too, and we put it to rest. We emptied it of the carefully folded linen, the mementos, photos, her paintings, the furniture, all that she had thought would be useful or would please us to have, and we laid the stones to rest. My parents’ nest was empty. We have it all now, the twigs and pebbles lovingly gathered, in our hearts.


Rainy Sunday bliss

The organised pheasant shoot seemed to finish at lunchtime on Thursday and since then, there has been minimal activity from the men with guns. The animals have come out of hiding, though the caravan of refugee pheasants never really got into the spirit of keeping their heads down. The hare was lolloping around yesterday evening, the pheasants set up a din after lights out, and again around midnight meaning, yes, they were still there, and there was a prowler. I hope it was a fox.

There are a lot of fox turds around, and martens’ so they haven’t all been exterminated, and we see the squirrels about too. Our red squirrels seem to have black tails. Apparently this happens often in these parts. The deer are around at night, having been daily visitors until the pheasant massacre began. We know they come round at night because they are gradually eating our apple trees.

Trixie has been on a private massacre of her own. She has caught and eaten a flock of voles, but these last few days, she has been off her vole. Or rather field mouse, her latest discovery. The last ones she has just dumped in front of the house and gone for a lie down. Yesterday she caught something, brought it into the veranda and let it go. It ran and hid under the wellies and she couldn’t be bothered pursuing the matter and asked to go outside again. I caught the little critter, which was completely undamaged, and put it outside in the woodpile where the killer won’t find it. It was the loveliest little thing, a baby shrew, silky grey fur like a mole, and it blinked its eyes as though it wasn’t used to daylight.

This lunchtime, we witnessed a most touching display from a couple of pheasants. As if they know the hunters aren’t around at the moment they have been wandering around in the meadow and along the hedge. We saw a hen pheasant running in a distracted sort of way along the hedge, stopping every few yards to peer about, looking for something/someone. Then the object of her desire came running across the meadow (pheasants only seem to fly as a last resort) and they were reunited. The hen leapt into the air and bounced about in delight (literally) like a flighty fifteen year-old. He rubbed himself against her when she stayed still long enough. And we think only human beings have those kind of reactions.

rain falls from low cloud

the air is green, winter waits

the earth is busy.



A haven perhaps


Since the season started, the deer have been round often. Do they know? Since the guns started blazing they have been coming here. Perhaps they do know. Often they are in pairs, a mother and a young one. Usually they stay close together. The young ones have been among the first to be born this year, almost fully grown, sensible. This morning the young one was a later birth, one of those unruly kids, leaping and gambolling like a little goat, straying further and further from its mother. They grazed along the bramble hedge then back to the corner beneath the alders where they crossed the stream. I thought they’d gone, but Bambi popped up again, by the willows, mother following.

An hour later, they were still there. I took Finbar out for a pee. He didn’t notice them; they didn’t notice us. Mother ambled beneath the alders and crossed the stream at the place where I go to pass the time of day with the frogs who sit in a patch of sun on the bank. Ten minutes later, Bambi frisked out of the ditch beneath one of the willows. Looked about for ma. Frisked up towards the house, looking around all the time for mother. Then he ran. Bounded. But not in fright, not to run from anything, with the simple joie de vivre that I recognised from watching Finbar do the same. He ran almost a hundred yards along the stream then ran all the way back again. He ran, skipping and leaping in deer-twists back and forth, with no other thought than amusement. Same long legs, same careless leaping through brambles and over obstacles, but lighter than a big racing dog, less powerful but with more grace.

Back and forth, skip, jump, brisk shake of the head. Ears prick. Ma? I imagined his mother, sighing to herself at the other side of the stream, maybe settled down to wait. No calling, quiet. Eventually he trotted over to the track that goes over the stream by the frogs’ place. I saw the white scut in the shade as he sauntered back to his mother. Perhaps to get a clip around the ear.


Carless joy beneath

a milky sky—wild children


Alien Urns, or the sordid secrets of Mother Nature

I’m posting this just to share the skin-crawling sensation we’re feeling. If you’re of a squeamish disposition, don’t look at the photo.

Among the useless rubbish in the barn, husband found the previous owner’s besace, the bag he used when he was out on patrol. We learned from several neighbours that old André was not a hunter, put up barbed wire to keep them out, was a bit of an ecolo and liked the wildlife. It has earned him a mitigated memory, but endeared him to me. Anyway, husband found an old leather bag of his and thought it might be useful for putting his whetting stone in and all the other bits and pieces he has to have about his person when he’s scything.

He took the bag out of the barn, cleaned it up and hung it up on the porch near the wood pile. And forgot about it. yesterday, he remembered it. Opened it, and this is what he found on the underside of the flap.


A mud dauber wasp had been busy over the summer and constructed these alien objects like mud urns each about an inch long, with the remains of a wasp pupa inside. There is something really creepy about these things. Maybe it’s the association with Alien but nobody so far has volunteered to clean the bag up.