December 14th, 2005
It's been almost 2 weeks since I posted my last entry - partly because of daily domestic hassle and partly because I think I cracked a rib while pulling up fence posts at a local nature reserve and it's still sore. So long a gap does me no good and today I set out, my head filled with mundane worries and stress. Once my boots were on and I set off though, it took me about 5 minutes to relax. My first sighting was the beautiful chestnut brown back of a kestrel as it rested on a telephone wire next to the road. I spent a few seconds looking at it through binoculars and feeling my heartbeat slowing.
As I started up the track, it became clear that the landscape had changed noticeably since my last walk. The browns were more prevalent on trees and bushes, the stark red rosehips were there, but there were very few sloes left. The colour and life was draining away. All the leaves on the bushes had gone now and the blackbird's nests were all clearly visible.
In mid November, when I started this diary, we were enjoying a late autumn and life was still buzzing. A month later, after some high winds and solid frosts, winter is deep and bleak. Now only the winter birds provide movement. The temperature has risen recently though (up to about 7 C), so the air is relatively warm and walking is comfortable.
Along the route, I noticed footprints other than mine, but no accompanying dog. Someone else has been along here in the last few days and they brought tools. Several of the larger brambles had been snipped back to clear the path, but only at the near section of the route. As I progressed further up, the footprints stopped and the brambles were untouched. Activity again as I headed back to the village along the bridleway - a tractor had been up and someone had been chainsawing fallen Elm saplings.