Discover more from Severnland
Eating my lunch I watch a builder on the site at the back of our house drop lengths of discarded timber into a skip three stories below. The wood shadow falls weightlessly down the orange bricks before disappearing from view behind the garden fence. It makes no noise, and is unexpected relaxing.
My daughter has just run in shouting "Fox! Fox in the garden!" I look through the kitchen window in time to catch a white-tipped tail disappear behind the clematis and through the aperture between our studio and next door's garage. My wife has run in too late: We all race to an upstairs window, but the tip of the tail is the end of the party.
When we let the dog out a few minutes later he goes straight to the spot, before tracing the scent across the lawn to the pond, and down along the flower bed. He finds fox poo and hoovers it up, a regular habit that grosses me out. Our no-dig bed heavy with rotted horse manure has been disturbed regularly since its installation in the autumn: the fox is looking and finding copious worms there, chasing them down with freezing pond water.
After the fox sighting, the energy in the house is charged. I wolf my lunch to come and write this.
Garden wildlife encounters are among my favourites. We've made moves in our garden to encourage wildlife in, and it seems generally to be working. I'm pretty sure we have a wren nesting in one of the climbers and the pond in summer is a hive of winged activity. A squad of first winter dragonfly nymphs will patrol our pond for another two or three summers before they too become part of the wing-buzz hum of June.
The day is bright and beautiful. While some remains doggedly on our cool-underneath deck, the snow of yesterday is otherwise gone gone gone leaving a clarity is mirrorlike, icy, a stream of mountain water. I remember drinking from a clear stream in Derbyshire as a child. We were on a family walk, a traipse of 18 miles, all hopelessly dressed for such a slog, all very young. We found this stream and I went for it in a way I wouldn't do now without iodine somesuch or trail gadget to cleanse the bugs. Today is like that drink: Cold, refreshing, sharp-edged, meandering unhurriedly into the past.
PS. Coincidentally, The Black Door by Harold Jones was painted from a drawing he made in Derbyshire. The birds on the grass are starlings, the tree a linden.