On my way to market a small deer skipped away from the roadside, in search of cover and safety.
Coming back a kestrel, missing the car by inches, swooped in pursuit of a sparrow, who shot low between the hedges to escape the car and the hawk.
A hare popped onto the road, looked up and scrambled back up the steep banking.
Yesterday a single egret–small, white heron-like bird–must have heard on the telegraph wires that the cows were due back in the meadow behind our house.
Cows are an endless source of nourishment for the egret.
Among the new green of the grass, a thin shaft of white with a head looking round forlornly–searching the field for absent friends.
“I spy no cows!”
Clearly someone was spreading fake news!
No cows or egrets appeared that afternoon.
Then there’s Sybil, the donkey from next door.
She’s chocolaty brown and small–contrasting with the herd of Blonde d’Aquitaine–creamy, pale and BIG.
I read that donkeys are kept with cows and calves as guards to chase off predators–a private security deployment.
Sybil spends her days munching on the fringes of the herd–ears pricked ready for action–the lonely life of a security donkey.
Small–certainly, but when she voices an opinion from just below the terrace–it’s deafening and demanding.
She opens her mouth and all her frustrations come pouring out:
It’s enough to scare any would-be predator to death!
In fact, this morning it’s a fair bet that what she’s after is an apple.
She knows Meredith is a soft touch for apples.
She wants one of them apples–and she wants it NOW.
“Alright, alright, Sybil–we hear you, dear.”
AND we have a kestrel family nesting in the oeil de boeuf of the attic.
Meredith and our neighbor, Florence, crept upstairs when they were sure the mother kestrel had flown off for food and spied three eggs.
The ways of the countryside—not for me!–was how I felt for years.
I remember a weekend in upstate New York when the din of chattering chipmunks drove us mad and prematurely back to the relative quiet of the big Apple.
It bothered me not a jot that there were no kestrels in the Garden Suburb, nor deer on Hampstead Heath; no cows grazing on the Heath Extension.
I didn’t give it a second thought that hares were rare and donkeys unknown–though the milk cart of my youth was pulled by an old nag whose droppings ended up on the vegetable patch.
We did have a fox living in the garden behind us and that felt weird.
The country was where you went for holidays–or in my case on weekends for Sunday roast before scurrying back to the Big Smoke.
It looked beautiful, of course, but the only excitement it seemed to poor, ignorant me was the game of cricket, played out on the village green.
Times change; stuff happens…we get older!
I don’t feel that way at all now–and not even Sybil’s loudest shout would drive me back to the Big Smoke.