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Back from the Brink

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I awoke to find it was almost spring. Having been pinioned to my bed for the past seventy two hours by a bout of food poisoning that might have shut down a small city, the first few days of this new season almost passed me by. The ceiling whirled around my head as I entertained feverish dreams of being a stick of birch in a bundle loosely tied to a tractor box. Days and nights passed by as I thrashed about miserably like an ague-wracked Victorian explorer.

And when the storm broke, I came around to find great tits singing through the window; the curtains belling gently and a beam of sunlight on my foot. From the kitchen window, dunnocks naughtily flared their underarms at one another, and a clicking rook flew past with a poplar aerial.

Galvanised into activity, I slowly went over to look at the cows and found them dozing beautifully in the sunshine. Robins ticked their tails and a blackbird warned us all of a fox who had been lying up in the sun below the brambles. Out on the rocks above the creek, I watched scores of duck plying their trade over the water, leaving vees of wake behind them. There were tufted duck in naval crews, and wigeon scooting off with fine, frantic flirts. Then all was chaos as a peregrine passed by below me; the curlews rose from their deep green dub and even the hunky shelduck cocked a nervous eye.

The falcon passed through and slashed down, missing a teal or two before coming to rest in the bare tops of an ash tree. Crows came like black wedges to dislodge her and she dropped again to flare unflapping over the blackthorn hedges. I lost her towards the sea, but then a rush of redshank gave an instant’s clue.

It was a rare spring day – the kind of dry warmth that soon leads to burnt heather. Someone was razing the whins towards the East, and the smoke rose up and came back over like a smear of down on the breeze.

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