Saturday, 4 July 2009

foraging

I've been keeping an eye out for our local fox, the one that killed the magpie chick. I've not seen it for a couple of weeks now; maybe it succumbed to the mange.

Something is still out there, though. Our untidy neighbours' rubbish bags, left stacked against their wheelie bin, were ripped open the other night, and a plastic meat tray had been carried out into the road and dumped there, looking peculiarly unsightly. I took out my terrifically handy Gerber Multi-Plier...and picked the tray up and dumped it in the bin, leaving a little pile of meat-soaked cigarette butts in the road. If even Mystery Animal had turned up its nose at these dubious snacks, I sure as heck wasn't taking any chances. I wiped the nose of the pliers in the hedge and returned them to my bag.

This morning, at about 3:30, I leaned out of the front window. The sky was deep blue with the first flush of dawn around the edges to the north and east, the air was perfectly still, and the city as silent as it ever gets; the earliest of early birds would not begin singing for another half hour or so. I saw a vaguely rugby-ball shaped thing ambling jauntily across the road. "Rat? -too plump. Vole? -too big. Ha! Hedgehog. I didn't realise they could move so fast." (I didn't actually say anything out loud, I'm not potty. I'm just dramatising my thoughts. Bear with me)

It's been a long time since I last saw a hedgehog wild and free. A very long time indeed, come to think of it. It was up on Mynydd Maen, back in the 70s, when I rescued one from the cattle grid next to my caravan, on two nights running, and fed it bread and milk. I guess the quality of the grub wasn't good enough, and it scarpered after that.

This morning's hedgehog squeezed through the wrought iron gate into next door's garden, and almost immediately there began a sort of sticky munching noise, with some crunching thrown in for good measure. I now know what it sounds like if you eat a snail with your mouth open. And without removing it from the shell first. I once sat opposite Richard while he snaffled a plate of frogs' legs. That was bad enough, even if it was in France. Come to that, I once sat, fastidiously playing with my food, while a Filipino sailor sitting opposite me noisily snaffled a bowl of fish heads. It was OK, in context. I would not like to dine out with this hedgehog, either within or beyond the bounds of the EU.

The munching ended suddenly, and the hedgehog reappeared, trundling across the road again to the next garden, where the noises started up again.

I left it to it.