Perched quietly by the window I eased my way into the working day. With the frosts consigned to the earlier days of January the ground now held a cool dampness and as the sun strengthens it gives a hint of the spring to come. Movement on the edge of my peripheral vision drew my attention from the screen before me and through the window to the sight of a field vole scurrying around in the undergrowth outside. Short bursts of speed allowed the little creature to cover the open ground between cover as scraps were scavenged. Working away from the cities and clutter of people regularly brings such sights for me and I find I miss them greatly when I am called back to civilisation. After enjoying the most welcome distraction I returned my eyes to the screen and carried on until wrens and dunnocks took their turn to pass through my field of view.
Hours ticked by as shadows swung and lengthened before the setting sun brought the blue skies to a deeper hue and the stars and crescent moon gently appeared over the horizon. I stepped away from my tasks, wrapped up warm against the evenings chill and set out with two of my dogs to clear my mind of the thoughts and intricacies of my work. The country lanes were surprisingly busy, headlights and the drone of car engines hiding the commuters passing to and from the near by village & its railway station. Remaining on the lanes was looking unwise and far from peaceful, I chose to take the green lanes, footpaths and edges of the fields to leave the commuters to their rushing around and embrace the peace & darkness.
With the chill wind blowing across the fields and it was a relief to be away from the lea and in the shelter of the hedgerows. The soft ground took its toll as my boots plugged into the mud and the simple act of walking left clouds of condensing breath in the air around me. The early crescent moon was also frugal with her light and I had to resort to using the lantern for a while as the hedgerows tailed up toward the small copse and woodlands.
Miles ticked by as my body warmed with the effort of the walk and finally I was glad to be heading downhill and back towards the flat fields near our hovel. The long grass of the fallow land helped to strip the mud from my boots making steps easier as I made my way into the last half mile. My dogs had clearly enjoyed their walk, they were spattered with mud but still enthusiastic with their gait as they pushed towards the hedgerow bounding the field edge. A shape emerged silently above the hedge and sailed by me to slowly hover and patrol the field. I turned the lantern on for a moment to see the elegance of the barn owl, who seemed to be forgiving of our presence and more intent on the hunt. Within the edge of the lantern light and with a turn of the wings the owl held a space within the air for a moment before folding and dropping into the long grass. I have little doubt a field vole would have been taken and it would not be long before the owl would be on the hunt for more.
I turned off the lantern and finished my wander, the back step of the hovel was soon adorned with my muddy boots and the dogs were relaxing in the warmth. I too was grateful for the warmth and the chance to sit down, with my mind filled with an enriching experience I settled into a chair as one of the last of the commuters drove past on the narrow lane before the hovel. I suspect our journeys would have been very different.