Earlier this week I was reminded of my past life, sitting in an uncomfortable humid heat within a clients office I watched as staff became ill at ease with each other and the tasks passed to them by management. I remember well the feelings of striving for promotion and struggling with systems and instructions made by those who are not hands on with the projects on a daily basis. It was a relief to leave the office at the end of the day, but such relief was short lived as I sat on congested roads for two hours steadily baking in my own sweat with the sounds and smells of combustion engines around me.
It was early evening by the time I arrived back at my hovel and after taking care of a few tasks I decided to take two of my dog pack for a wander to help clear my head and enjoy the cooling air. Low clouds obscured the twilight sky depriving me of the vision of the emerging stars between the trees as I set off on familiar tracks and the issues of the day were still turning in my mind in an attempt to distract me from the here and now. It was perhaps a quarter of a mile before I could feel myself beginning to relax and enjoy freedom of movement as the muscles began to shed the tensions of the day.
I emerged from the cover of trees into a wide clearing on a broad and little used vehicle track. A sharp call cut through the breeze and caught my attention, turning I watched two sparrowhawks chasing each other through the young trees in the clearing, vanishing for the briefest moments in the lengthening shadows before reappearing within ten yards of me and circling around me calling as they went. I gained the impression they were not hostile to each other and were perhaps young hawks enjoying their last flight of the day before settling for the night. As they sped away into the far reaches of the clearing I lost sight of them and carried on to the tree line and turned to the smaller tracks.
My two dogs trotted ahead into the gloom, eager to stretch their legs and enjoy their freedom until I was aware of the sounds of growling and scuffling from the track in front of me. I assumed they had perhaps come across a stray dog and I ran forward to ensure a fight would be quickly stopped. I was surprised to find my two dogs either side of a badger, needless to say the badger was not happy about the canines following and investigating as he trotted towards me. The badger stopped for a moment as he realised I was blocking his escape along the path. Standing to the side of the path I created a gap for the badger to escape, the creature scurried by and was only perhaps three feet from me as he accelerated past and into the shadows. It took a few stern commands to prevent the dogs chasing him as they followed their instincts.
Returning to our journey it was only a short distance before we came across another night creature lurking at the edge of the wood with the boundary of a sheep field. Both dogs halted and held their gaze to a vixen watching the sheep. The vixen soon realised her position was exposed and in a flurry of movement sped for a gap in the fence and sprinted across the open field. Again it took stern commands to the dogs to prevent them from giving chase, but I was rewarded by the sight of her escaping to the hedges beyond the open ground.
With a journey of such sights it was little wonder I was calmer and happier by the time we reached the last of the woodland trails and began heading for home. It was a relief I had not given in to the temptations of a chair and the distractions of the TV, within the twilight I had been given far greater gifts.