Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oh Dear, No Deer

The February moon rose out of the horizon very romantically as we were at the supermarket and it was huge. It was also orange and despite it’s size it was not making any noise at all. I would never want to live on the flatlands again but some things are much better down there and moonrises are one of them. This one just kept rising (now there’s a thing!) and getting brighter and brighter gradually lighting up the land with that silver sheen that makes it so special. Tonight it was even whiter and lighter than usual outside because of the snow, so bright in fact that I am writing this without a torch. There are a few clouds, wispy and vertical, wind-whipped into movement like a monochromatic aurora borealis and on the ground an icy cold, headache-inducing breeze is cutting its way in from the east and just faintly swaying the leafless trees picked out stark against the grey-blue sky.

When I got up to the hammock tonight, late because we got home late, the lengths of cotton I’d stretched out to know if the deer have passed or not were all broken. They know I am here because over a hundred of them are congregated just out of sight along the hazel terraces barking along with the droves of ventriloqual foxes.

So here I am, strung between two cherry trees, gently swaying in my hammock in time to the rhythm of the trees, with hood snuggling round my head writing and every now and again growling at the deer and snarling at the foxes when they bark. There’s an odd sort of creeping solitude feeling thingy as one by one the little clusters of lights on the other side of the valley go out and slowly the little world here goes to sleep leaving just the rush of the wind and the rush of the river to lull the barking dogs to sleep and when they finally quieten it’s just me and the trees.

It’s really weird. I could lie here and look at the mountains for hours at night like this. They are the same mountains I see every day of my life and I know they don’t change during the night but they seem anyway to detach themselves from us and to come alive more, a land reclaimed from us and briefly given back to it’s rightful inhabitants. I feel sort of separate from it as though I didn’t belong but, curiously, because I am actually out in it with nothing over me or when I am out on foot and alone I also feel very much a part of it, but not a big part. A sort of honorary member. I’ve always had this feeling though. It’s like with badger watching, I feel privileged because I’m in their world, the same world that I may feel to be mine during the day, and though I don’t exactly unwelcome, more redundant perhaps, I become uniquely aware that things continue to happen whether I’m there or not. You realise how insignificant us humans should be. Things happen that we should not see and do not see unless we make the effort to start, even in a minimal way, to shed our ideas of humanity with all it’s trappings and get back to the animal, to worry about smell and to use the wind and move quietly or to keep very still for a long time, or to start at an unfamiliar noise. Things that we do for enjoyment but they do to ensure their survival. We’re so used to commanding and controlling everything , at the center of everything all the time that at night when the human beast is asleep, the world, even though the day is a riot of sound and movement with birds and beasties roaming about seems to be much more alive. At night it ceases to become our world and becomes their world and I yet again realise how much happier the world would be without us to screw it up.

Anyways, it was not a quiet night. As I suspected, sleeping in a hammock at 3°C is a lot less comfortable than –2°C on the snow. So at some point during the night I had to get up and romp gleefully down the hill in clogs 2 sizes too big to get a sleeping mat which did though make it better. Then the dog, a pox be upon it, as I had pitched the hammock lower than usual hoping to get a shot of the deer from a more professional angle, kept sticking it’s nose in my face and snuffling and of course at 4.30 it started to snow and because the sleeping bag is not waterproof I preferred to go back to the house rather than pitch a tarp but not until I had spent ten minutes or so gazing up at the heavy moonlit sky watching the snowflakes falling from the snug warmth of my sleeping bag. Of course the snow lasted all of a quarter of an hour and when I awoke in the nice warm house the ground outside was as dry as a bone so I missed the dawn. But all is not lost as the wife has a concert on Thursday; I can try again.

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