Sunday, 26 July 2015

At the convergence of day and night.

Neither of us had planned on meeting. The unexpected encounter was a simple case of us both happening to be in the same location at the same time, for totally different purposes. The badger crossed the road beneath the street lamps, just as I stepped out of my front door. A couple of insignificant seconds in a lifetime, a few anonymous moments in two very different and separate existences, suddenly take on an importance, a magnitude far beyond their inherent potential, through their convergence on a single point in time and place. Although I doubt the badger was thinking anything more deeply philosophical than "where's my next worm?". 
My world exists in daylight. I work and play between dawn and dusk and think nothing of the light, I take for granted movement and sight and colour. But there is a time when my world converges with another existence, the crossover of night beginning whilst my day is still finding its ending. There is something magical about these overlapping hours, when one might unexpectedly bump into another creature who's activities are just beginning. The badger for example will continue to be busy right through the hours when I am sleeping, oblivious. As my senses switch off, his are just switching on. 
The ceiling light in my room creates an artificial imitation of day, juxtaposed the darkness falling outside. The young tawny owls have awoken. An army of slugs and snails push home the retreat of the sun with a slimy advance, marauders in the borders. It was at this hour, the night before last, when a hedgehog ran past. He was in a hurry, four little legs running like the clappers - with a rapid motion like clockwork, or one of those toy cars you pull back and let go, he whizzed off straight down the middle of the road, before eventually veering off into some front gardens several houses away! 
A black cat with glinting eyes, possibly the culprit who disturbed the hog out from the hedge, stood a short way further up the road, watching, clearly baffled by this bemusing apparition of spines, snuffles and surprising turn of speed.
A moth blurs around the window, attracted by the light. 

Another night, and this time I am waiting for the badger. Just as I turn to step back indoors, a sixth sense stops me. A bird is disturbed from its roost on a low branch and suddenly the badger appears, white stripes on his face remind me of headlight beams, his sandy-grey coloured back is the perfect shade to blend with the night. He follows the route of the night before, across the road and into the darkness. 
As I retreat indoors the rain begins to fall heavily. 
A last look out an upstairs window. The hedgehog, presumably having gorged his fill in the gardens and woodland edge, scurries past with the air of somebody who has forgotten their raincoat or umbrella hurrying home out of the rain.  

It has become a nightly habit, to stand for a few moments in the cool freshness of dusk and wish the badger well on his adventures, before bringing my own to a close at the end of the day. I hadn't noticed before the week's rhythms; the way a fine Saturday night is busier and noisier than any other day of the week. Cars pass up or down the road twice as frequently, there is chatter in gardens and movements along the street. 
The badger's head protrudes from the bushes at his appointed time, but he obviously was bumbling along without paying attention as he seems startled by the sudden presence of a young couple walking past. They spot the badger as he turns and ricochets back across the rife into the fields beyond, but they don't spot me sat on a low wall in the shadows.
The hedgehog didn't spot me either until he was within a foot or two of my own two wellington-booted feet, but to give him credit, I didn't spot the hedgehog any earlier either. Hedgehog froze and I held my breath. 
A neighbour's cat came to say 'hello' and was intrigued by the spiky creature crouched at my feet, and jumped up onto my lap with a confused meow when a stern word informed him that he wasn't allowed to investigate further. 
Hedgehog sensibly came to an eventual decision, turned around and shuffled off back the way it had come. 
I breathed. Neighbours cat went home for his dinner. 

Who knew that snails were a fan of Friday Night at The Proms?

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Hello! Thank you for viewing my blogs and profile. I am passionate about the countryside and british wildlife and I hope that this comes through in my blog. I am a nature writer and have been pursuing photography since early teenage years, whilst building a career in conservation. Helping people to reconnect with the natural world is very important to me, whether through direct hands on interaction, education or literature. Please also visit my website, for more information, my current CV, and further examples of writing and photography. You can contact me or keep up to date with new blog posts via Twitter @SophiEcoWild and/or Feedback, comments and audience participation are always welcome! Sophie May Lewis