November 2020
“Pandemic Perspectives”
Second Den - Chris leads us through the quiet of his lockdown garden to a surprise discovery
Shadows cast off the timber fences that edge the narrow garden. A trellis, thick with honeysuckle, split the space, deepening the shade and trapping the scent. A single archway opened through the trellis. Before it, shrubs and spiky weeds spread across the last patches of bare earth, still black from an early summer downpour. Behind it, ferns and ivy shielded a high beech hedge that hid from view the roaring traffic. Then the traffic stopped; and the planes stopped, and the workmen stopped. The man-made rabble took a breath, then a pause; and the pause lasted. And in the pause: gulls, then crows, then magpies, then wood pigeons, then starlings then blue tits took turns testing the silence. As the peace sustained the breeze found its voice again, hidden among young leaves. It was quiet enough now to hear another sound, a new sound: soft, mulling and higher than the others. You had to go and see. You paced the few steps to the trellis and, while stooping to pass under its arch, saw a flash of red and yellowed white disappearing through the hedge, carried off by the sound of leaf litter crumpling under softly padded paws. But the soft cries continued. At the very back, dug-in behind ivy and three well-placed rocks, was a huddled pack of fox kits. Balled up so tight you couldn’t count their number: their eyes blinded and shut, tiny snouts poked out before sinking back for warmth. Your surprise at their existence only outweighed by your surprised at the blackness of their fur and their vulnerability. Aware of your intrusion you back away, surrendering the few yards behind the trellis to the vixen and the den and the kits and the silence.
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Helen Boden 01