I finished an eight day stretch of shifts on Wednesday and it was such a gloriously sunny afternoon that, even though my weary bones were heavy, I headed down to the common for a pre-dinner wander. The common is a vast open expanse that offers a selection of possible routes of varying lengths, though on this occasion I planned to simply amble out into the middle for a bit of solitude and a breath of fresh air, rather than walk the 5 miles all the way round it. Above is the view I was expecting to welcome me, as seen on a bright, chilly day back in February, but, thanks to the recent copious amounts of rainfall round these parts, much of the route was ankle deep in water when I arrived, as well as being occupied by a particularly inquisitive herd of cows. I took the hint and, after pausing to watch a hobby make several breathtaking passes in its hunt for damselflies, I turned to head back the way I came, coming face to face with a male muntjac walking towards me. He didn't seem at all phased by my presence and simply branched off the footpath, disappearing into the undergrowth.
The older I get, the more each interaction with nature sustains me, making up for all the wasted years when I didn't appreciate such things. As I type these words a lone greenfinch sits silently in the tree outside my window while a scream of 6 or 7 swifts make patterns in the sky overhead. Earlier, over at the weir, one of the local pair of grey wagtails was shouting the odds for anyone within a hundred yard radius who cared to listen, while a little further along the river, a swan sat on its massive nest, waiting patiently for the next generation to hatch. Last year there were at least six cygnets, though ultimately only two survived predation.
Today's choice of tune, a marvellously funky South African single from 1973, is inspired by the wide open spaces out in the middle of the common, even if I was unable to experience them a couple of days ago.