Sunday, 3 April 2011

Lessons From Small Creatures

With the lights of the village glowing in the distance I wandered through the darkened lanes, clouds slowly passed overhead lit only by the light from the towns and cities in the distance as they were pushed along by the very gentlest breeze. From the distance came the familiar rattle of a petrol engine and light appeared down the road. Instinctively I reached for the lantern and turned it on to alert the driver to my presence and save them from the awkwardness of running into me in the darkness, the driver responded with the usual courtesy of putting their headlights on full beam. I stepped off the road and waited for them to pass and stood still in the darkness while I allowed my night vision to recover.

Muttering a soft curse under my breath I continued once my retina had ceased to burn and made my way into the village under the dead light of the sodium street lights. As I approached the late night store the silence was shattered by the sound of a young lad starting the engine on his car. The noise was almost unbearable in the silence of the night. The engine was certainly not powerful and the layer of filth that covered the small car and its registration plates betrayed the lack of care of its owner. It was the lack of any type of exhaust that  gave rise to the cacophony, no doubt the vehicle's original exhaust had long since corroded away and the current owner had either not troubled themselves to replace it or had decided that the vehicle sounded better without it. The vehicle roared off into the distance, shaking windows and barely troubling the speed limit of the village. Again my muttered curses were carried away on the gentle breeze.

As peace returned I cast my eyes up the road.  From a side street the unmistakable form of a fox cast a wary glance up and down the road before elegantly trotting across the street to the quiet lanes on the opposite side of the road. A smile returned to my face as I watched my fellow night walker carefully make his way into the safety of the small lanes and the enveloping darkness. I carried on walking silent steps, distant enough to avoid startling the splendid creature. After a short while I turned into a smaller road, the showers of the evening still stood in puddles along the kerb side like darkened mirrors holding the intensity of the night sky. One puddle seemed to move and shimmer in contrast to its neighbours. For a while I watched, the ripples were as invisible footsteps carefully padding around the water. For a moment they ceased and a shape emerged onto the footpath. A hedgehog trotted its way into the undergrowth, the puddle had provided the creature with a suitable bath and the undergrowth was both a bed and a larder. The smile remained on my face as I walked away from the village and back to my hovel in the darkened lanes.

Once again, life within the darkness had shown me many things. The activities of people had left me deaf and blind as people had made their inconsiderate & self obsessed way in the night, the smaller creatures had shown me how to adapt to the surroundings and take advantage of what they have.

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