Saturday, 4 July 2015

a morning badger



I put the kettle on, then steeped over to the open galley hatch. And froze. 

There on the bank opposite was a badger, drinking from the canal. Presently it turned and ascended into the wood, becoming invisible almost immediately in the undergrowth and the half-light of the early morning. 

For some time I heard it slowly truffling its way through the wood, in the general direction of home.


After my bucket of tea, I went up to the wharf, half a mile away. (When the hot weather began, I moved Eve to the shadiest spot I could find, in the shade of some great ashes and oaks. It's made a big difference to the temperature on board, which is now bearable). There are some wild cherry trees up there, and I'd noticed the day before that they had reached a peak of ripeness, some being deep red and some so deep that they looked almost black. One tree's fruit was quite sweet but a little bland; the next tree's fruit looked exactly the same, but was really sour, but with a strong flavour coming in behind the sourness. I thought it would be just the thing for putting in vodka...

The blackbirds were already busy in the tree; once wild cherries are ripe, they're gone in next to no time. They clucked petulantly and occasionally flurried at each other, even though there was plenty for everyone. A thrush darted up, plucked a cherry off on the wing, and returned to a chick, almost as big as itself, and presented it with the fruit.

I filled my Tupperware tub, and watched the martins that had begun wheeling over the housing estate over the water. Then there was a PLOP that is always worth investigating, and, watching the other bank, I saw a water vole swim along, then scramble out and start nibbling noisily at the reeds. Another one joined it. You could easily spot where they were, as the vegetation shook under the onslaught of their nibbles.


I got the camera out, then put my specs up on the top of my head, the better to see through the viewfinder. I turned, and PLOP. 

This time it was my specs.

Nothing else for it; off with shoes and leggings, and into the water. It was a great relief to find that the bottom was gravel, and not the slimy, foul mud that you often find down there. I guess the swash of many propellors had kept it clear. The water was just about waist deep. After ten minutes of probing with my toes, I found the specs and lifted them out.

And so home, to the second shower of the day.

Shame it was such a poor picture of the vole. Sometimes it's better just to enjoy the moment.