The nature is back

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Probably not the same deer

The nature is back. Not that it has ever entirely gone away. The fieldmice which live in the drystone wall in the front garden have become more enthusiastic about our house again. They have been wandering about the kitchen, the hall, the lounge and my study.

The one in the study was making a terrible clatter behind the Welsh dresser. Then the noise stopped and a hazel nut rolled out from behind it. I waited and a mouse scampered out after it, disappearing under the bookcase. A minute later the mouse reappeared carrying the hazel nut with that same curve of the back as the squirrel in the Ice Age films. I let it carry its booty into the dark of the hall.

I think they are getting in through the air bricks at the back of the house then romping under the floors, popping out where they choose. (A couple of years ago I found one of an earlier generation of mice stuck in one of those airbricks: a pair of very dead back legs poking out. The answer is long-nosed pliers lightly clamped around the pelvis and a gentle, steady pull.) I am going to have to put some mesh across the openings.

A larger visitor was the grey heron which occasionally lumbers in to check out next door’s fish pond. It didn’t stay very long this time; put off perhaps by the plastic herons (less than life size) they have stationed around the edge of the pond. I am always astonished that something that big can get into the sky: it reminds me of propeller transport aircraft lumbering into the sky.

And then there were the unfamiliar birds, a bit bigger than a sparrow, with green wings and a red splodge on the head. They were hanging upside down from the spindly branches of the silver birch among the light brown precursors of the leaves (rats, now need to know what is going on with those). I had to look those up. Turns out they were greenfinches: I would have called them red finches, as that was the most distinctive part of their colouring.

Finally, I was cycling along the lane that runs beside the golf course. I slowed to overtake a pedestrian. As I passed, she pointed toward the golf course. There, to my right, was a deer loping along the nearest fairway. It was cantering roughly the same speed as I was cycling, so we traveled in parallel for a hundred yards or so. Then the lane swung to the right. The deer burst through the hedge and onto the lane, coming face to face with me. It stopped dead, turned and went back through the hedge. I thought it had had enough of a fright, so I cycled on, still very excited at having been only a few yards from a deer.

And even more finally, a couple of days later, a stoat scuttled across the road in front of my bicycle wheel. At least, I think it was a stoat.

I don’t go looking for these encounters, they happen as I go about my day, but each one of them – even the mice – give me a lift. They remind me that despite our self-obsession, we are not the only species on the planet, and that all the stuff that goes on in my head may not, in the end, be all that important.

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