Encountering nature.

When I was a boy I was surrounded with nature. My life was caterpillars, lizards, slowworms, snakes, frogs, toads and newts. There were ponds, streams and grassland, forests, moors and lakes. But so much of that has gone. I used to lie back in a meadow, among a mass of flowers, and the insects would be buzzing all around.

Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.

There are hardly any insects now and consequently, everything else is harder to find.

This lockdown has been fantastic. Every day, for one hundred and six days, I have gone for a ten-kilometre walk in nature.  It has given me a real rush of pleasure. Every day I seem to stumble across something wonderful – a duck with her brood of ducklings, a grass snake swimming the beck, a barn owl swooping overhead, a kestrel hovering in the air, a fox walking up the road towards me, a hare running up the path and nearly bumping into us, a pair of buzzards circling, a family of eight stoats flowing across the road in front of me, weevils, butterflies, rabbits, warblers, red kites, tits, finches and hedgehogs. It feels like nature is alive and was expanding back into the space we’d left vacant.

Today, as I walked up my hill, in the distance I could see some creatures moving on the road, but I could not make out what they were. I thought that it was probably crows with a bit of roadkill.  As I slowly went forward I saw that it was two stoats with a dead rabbit. One ran off but the other was trying to drag the carcass along. When it was about five paces away from me it looked up and saw me. It darted, sinuously into the undergrowth on the verge.

I walked passed the dead rabbit and quietly stood ten paces away to watch. Sure enough, the stoat, not wanting to lose its kill, shot across the road. I waited another minute and could see its tiny face peeping out of the undergrowth. It came back out into the road, stood on its hind legs to look all around for danger. I stood still. It went over to the rabbit and began dragging it along. I was enthralled.

Nature is amazing. To get so close to the action was like being on safari. I love it. It filled me with joy (I’m still feeling it).

We so have to look after this planet of ours and protect the wonderful creatures we have!

Now that lockdown is over it is sadly in retreat again. No doubt we will chop more trees, fill more ponds, spray more fields and continue to kill off the little we have left.

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