maypole dogs are not my only animal kingdom encounter. Birds are the main stay of course. In the very early mornings when it is still dark but the dawn is hinting, they sing. That little snippet of dawn chorus makes me feel alive. Of course unlike the elusive milkman the proof of their existence is not limited to signs of their presence. The birds put in an appearance all along the route. Black birds dart out from the bushes and hedges, crows and jays strut across the roads and more open spaces. Pigeons perch precariously on the tops of lampposts (the magic of which is again for another entry) and the occasional robin bobs about the school fence.
Slinking cats have become more of a feature recently, new arrivals to the housing estate. More eagerly looked for are the rabbits and squirrels (grey, sorry red would be great but grey is better then nothing) which I get to see nearer the town centre, where a finger of dean with groupings of trees bisects my way. They are always a pleasure to see and a tiny pause when they are sighted is not unusual.
One singular exceptional morning occasioned more than the usual slight halt in my progress. Early winter, cold misty morning before the frosts had set in, I could smell the green of the school field before I reached it. The last cut of the grass before full winter had infused the air which that particularly evocative smell. Just as I turned the corner where I can see the field itself over the hedge and bush, my eye caught a glimpse of white. I turned my head for a better look at the expected rabbit flashing its cotton tail just a bit as it moved. Then I stopped and stared and looked harder in astonishment.
Not a rabbit, deer, three deer in the middle of the fenced in old school playing field. I almost wished I had company to confirm the sight. Now I have lived in this place for as I have mentioned before a lot of years, this school field belonged to what was my infant and junior school. I have walked in the accessible parts of the dean and travelled up and down the roads which bisect it which all have signs beware deer crossing and I have never ever before seen even the flash or a retreating tail!I was almost convinced they were a figment of the sign manufacturer's imagination. Yet there were three just standing to be admired mist swirling about their legs all Bambi's mother. Transfixed I stood stiller than they and watched uncaring for bus timetables, there would be others, or for getting to work, it would likely still be there, just suffused with wonder and delight. I presume it was the amazing cut grass smell which had drawn them up from the depths of the trees, through the space where the school gate used to be across the scrub ground of my childhood class rooms and the silent playground tarmac and to squeeze one at a time through the gap in the metal fence, created by some enterprising youths wanting access to the field. But as the logic of why they were there flitted through my mind as they retraced their steps and left my view was not the focus of my thoughts. The sheer all encompassing euphoria was the focal thought.
As I got moving again the litany, I saw deer, I really saw deer repeated over in my mind, I even said it aloud to make it more real. And there has not even been a passing car, muffled up cyclist or other walker passing to share and validate the moment. Did it need validation? No, it made my whole day and even week lighter just to think of it, it still makes me smile and each time I see one of those signs I grin and think you were true after all, does the sign make it real? So if I make a sign that says beware dragons crossing, what are my chances? Oh and I still caught the bus, it was a little late, perhaps the driver saw something amazing on his way to work, oh and yes work was still there as well.