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Night Sounds

Posted by ealdwita , 27 May 2012 · 506 views

I love these long summer evenings. I’ve just spent an hour or so sitting on the porch with a mug of coffee laced with Navy rum,  just listening to the sounds of the night. I caught the sound of the last fifteen minutes of bell-ringing practice from the little Norman church in the village,  and the melodious ‘rounds’ and ‘changes’ sent delicious shivers down my spine. (They say the Devil has all the best tunes, but don’t you believe it.) The sound of church bells even ‘soothes the savage breast’ of an old heretic like me!

Most of the day, our ‘resident’ kestrel has been still-hunting from her favourite fence post, but now that she’s gone home through the gathering dusk to her chicks, the mice and shrews begin their nightly forage through the long grass and purple-flowered Herb Robert that grows along the verges. Soft rustling and faint ‘chips’ give them away. The Badger family that has its sett in the beech copse by the river will be in the cabbage fields by now, rooting round for the choicest, crispy slugs and beetles for their supper!

Over the hill, near to where the rabbits have dug a huge warren in the sandy strip of earth that makes up the Greensand Way, a fox yelps. Not the disconcerting scream of the mating season but a plaintive, softer call, as she gathers her cubs to hunt. Down where the bridle path meets the lane, a Tawny owl calls from the outer branches of one of the tall Elm trees, an ancient song that has reverberated down through the ages, evoking images in my mind of all the folk of the land that have gone before me and listened to the night as I do now. A huff and rustle of straw comes from one of the stable stalls and Argent peers over the closed lower half of her door, her grey head ghostly in the single light overhead. Gypsy, one of the black Labradors drags herself up from my feet with a grunt and lopes over to her pal. Putting both paws on the door, their noses meet. Argent sneezes and returns to her hay. Gypsy drops down, takes a long, dribbling slurp from her water bowl and disappears through the open kitchen door (to see if anyone’s left any food about, I shouldn't wonder!)

The wife switches off the outside light and sits in the other chair beside me. The sky is completely clear and because we live way out in ‘the sticks’ as they say, there’s no light-pollution, only a faint orange rim on the horizon from the sodium lights of Ashford. The heavens are a marvel tonight! I’m no astronomer but to the North I can identify Ursa Minor and low down on the horizon, the sparkling ’W’ of Cassiopeia. Joining it all together, the Milky Way stretches almost directly overhead, revelling in the absence of the Moon!

Time to go in, I think. There’s plenty to do in the morning (as always), but I wouldn’t change a single thing. I have been so very, very fortunate in my life, and I’m grateful.

Sounds wonderful.  Those last remmants of the day do have a very special feel about them.

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