Days

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In the early hours of the morning, the taste of toothpaste still in my mouth, we woke to the teeth jangling sound of a vixen calling for a mate from the pavement outside our house. She looked desperate and vulnerable, an unexplained noise down and to our left causing her to flinch repeatedly. Our daughter woke up thinking there was a ghoul at the end of the bed and called for me. We watched the fox together from her bedroom window. Houselights clicked on and our neighbours to the right must have eventually tired of the unearthly racket and opened their front door because the fox spun that way before turning tail and vanishing behind a fence. With my lack of nighttime wits I couldn't for the life of me work out what the thudding noise was that made her flinch, but my sleepy imagination conjured that her mate was being battered – that she was feeling the force of every stinging blow – wailing for her dying love.

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Four robins circle-dance in a tree, tipping their beaks back, puffing their chests. If only they had had tiny swords.

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I leave a trail of breadcrumbs for a hundred metres or so. The crumbling of bread between my fingers is satisfying, it flakes to the floor sponging into mud, or suspended in grass. Looking back I see a crow and a magpie following it. A similar trail left in another field attracts three pigeons that hoover efficiently and smoothly along the line like zips down a coat.

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The wet slap of my steps around the pond unseats a heron from the reeds, it labours into the air like a creaking grey jumbo and lands hunched and ruffled in a Solero coloured willow bough.

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Almost invisible amongst the dangling key fobs of an ash tree a blue tit repeats Peep peep peep Hahahahaha! Peep peep peep Hahahahaha! Peep peep peep Hahahahaha!

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Today the crows were waiting for me and came before I even reached into my pocket for bread. They land within 8 feet, cocking heads, more confident, in all the directions of the compass. I take a different route on the way back.

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The bird table is up! I spent an hour watching it through the dining room door this morning. Nothing yet. Nothing all day.

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Cloudy sun streams across the low hills, angled white light scoping left to right scanning the surface of the world for what? Life? Hope? A sense of humour? Runners, walkers, cars. One runner shoots snot rockets from both nostrils. George Butterworth’s Banks of Green Willow. Paint palette. Bike lights. Keyboard tap. A droopy weariness offset by the desire to record the days and make new things. The evaporated promise of snow, and the colossal totem of stacked days still ahead.