Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Today I Died And Was Resurrected

(Originally written April 13th) To compensate for recent ungainly thoughts today has been a great day. Wedding anniversary and wife’s gran’s birthday 107!! So wife and bairn went of to the birthday party and I grabbed metal detector, dog and went for a walk behind the house. It was a beautiful spring day, warm with those winged things chirping in the trees and bees and butterflies, gentle breeze and best of all, no people.

It is the snake silly season. The first balmy days of spring bring them out but they are still sleepy and sluggish and bad tempered. We don’t get many snakes which is surprising considering the terrain but any there are were out today. I saw two adders in as many minutes one curled up and one stretched out, both saw me and did absolutely nothing, as did I. Then I was kneeling down peering into a small cave uncovered by the rains that I hadn’t seen before to see if it contained a spring or not and knelt on a grass snake. Beautiful colours with a brilliant yellow collar. It was very small and slithered of unhurriedly. The lizards are out too and no matter how used to them I get when they dash for cover I jump. Conditioned response I suppose.

It’s difficult to describe the area. It is wild but at the same not impervious. Up to the 1800s it was all fields and terraces and now It is totally abandoned so it has jungle like qualities and also many open areas. It’s easy to walk in general and is full of animals paths and unused mule tracks. But being uninhabited and unused it’s full of animals. A while back I saw two animals rushing up from a field into the woods that I did not recognise. I’m a wildlife nut and there’s nothing usually I don’t instantly identify. It was doubly odd because when the dog sees anything, deer, boar, other dogs, foxes, cats she’s off like a shot “lets play! lets play!”. These beasties had her hackles up and crawling round my heels. Speaking to a friend apparently there are a couple of critters, large dog size, which have been seen in the valley by a variety of people. Now normally I’d dismiss that as rubbish but my description, like dog-sized black hares, was confirmed by friend. He spoke first. Possibly wolves (hope so but highly unlikely) but more probably escapees like the panther a few years ago. We found the tracks in the woods and told each other we were mad but it sure looked like a big cat print and gave us definite willies, then two or three months later one was caught 2 villages further up the valley. Anyway, bearing in mind the black hare dog, when I saw two tracks in the sandy bit under a rock I gingerly went closer to investigate. I say gingerly because it is quite a common occurrence amongst metal detetectorists to have wild boar explode out from beneath a rock overhang or even from a simple a scrape in the ground. They don’t move until the very last moment. The prints turned out to be those of my neighbour’s enormous dog, Shrek but just as I stood up I heard a very, and I mean very, loud bark about a foot from my head. I died, quite painlessly I might add. Rose to heaven, met st. peter (he doesn’t have a beard), was rejected and sent back down again just in time to see a large male roe deer leaping out from 2 feet away. It had obviously been there all the time and waiting to see what I was going to do. If I had gone back the way I’d come I would probably have never seen it. I aged considerably.

It never ceases to amaze me that, though I’ve been in this immediate area for twenty plus years I still keep finding bits I haven’t seen, and here we’re talking a 15 minute walk from the house. Today I found a field and I know I hadn’t come across it before because I found three coins and a cufflink and some musket balls in it. It’s going on my list of favourite places. The smell of wild thyme in the shortish grass with the heat was heady to say the least. The field is surrounded by brush and just sort of sitting in the middle of chaos. You go from brown of the woods to green of the field instantly and everything changes, butterflies, ants, I counted 5 different types, bees all sorts of flying things, millions of lizards and a mantis. It was like coming up from the car park and opening the elevator door onto a shopping arcade.
Obviously everything here is either up or down so I must have lost a fair few pounds in sweat as I climbed up to reach a track which would take me back home. Walking along it nose in the air as you do bugger me if the barking deer didn’t have another go. I didn’t see it this time but my main aim in life now has to be scaring the shit out of deer. I’s gonna get me a ghetto blaster and when I sees one I’m going to zap india Bharti at it at unnervingly high decibels.
The population of wrens has increased over the past few years. They are obviously thatching because all along the track they were all jumping here and there clicking, with bits of greenery in their beaks. I do like wrens. Wrens and robins. The wood pigeons are back too with 3 pairs in the area. We also have the weirdest population of jays. All very vocal and great at imitations. They do a great run on buzzards, eagles, dogs, cats and most irritating till I changed it, my mobile phone ring. Working outside usually and leaving my phone all over the place there have been numerous occasions when I have gone to answer it only to be screeched at by a jay. There were five of them today chasing each other and generally being noisy.

As usual on my walks I popped by the rock altar. Peaceful place. If we don’t change house I’m going to try and see if I can buy the bit of land its on. I’d love to clean it up before it gets hidden by the encroaching bush. It’s a special place. There are pick marks on the rock over hang behind it. Sitting there today it struck me that the marks were all vertical. Because of the angle of the rock the level of the ground must have been much lower for them to have been able to chip at it vertically. I removed some earth, about 10” and the marks go deeper so it must have been quite a bit lower. Not being an expert it’s difficult to tell whether they were made by antler tools or metal. Looks more metal though. I have a fallow deer antler and I’m going to have a go at duplicating the marks to see if it is possible with a non-metal tool.
But not today. I’s knackered and she who must be obeyed hath returned.

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