Honour is satisfied

Sunday October 9, 2005

“Well, we’ve done it, Dolly,” I said as I pulled the curtains over to shut out the night.

She did no more in the way of acknowledgement than to curl up a bit tighter, following her own private dream.

I bothered her no further, contenting myself with the thought that Graham will be home tomorrow, and allowing myself a second, celebratory beer before my dinner.

It’s been a long haul. Truth to tell living alone isn’t one of the things I do well. Oh, I get the chores done, and feed Dolly and myself, but most everything else slides away into the long empty hours. I’ve managed to keep some writing going every day, and to practice the piano, but all else has gone on hold. Can’t remember the last time I took up my drawing pen, far less a brush. Even the camera has lost its charm.

Ah well. It’s over now. The next few weeks, running up to the New Year, are going to be strange, schlepping ourselves back and forth to Somerset to follow the demands of the bars. Graham tells me he’s moved his stuff into the caravan we’ll be occupying for our visits, and if I know him he’s given it a good clean and set up lamps and cushions to make it a little more home-like and welcoming.

I sat down in the midst of my cleaning this morning to write the fourth of the six ‘visitors to my garden’ stories, this time selecting as my subject the hedgehog who wanders about the garden as if it’s his own. I find the word count has come out a little short of the 700 I’ve been aiming for, and feel that a second, minor storyline is needed but that can come later when I revise the thing. For now honour is satisfied, I’ve sent it off to the writing group and, hopefully, the next one will be a little better. I need to think about the next one for a bit yet.

So, though it’s not been the greatest of days, nor the greatest of periods, it’s done, honour is satisfied, and I can now look forward to resuming a more normal way of living. I’m thankful for that.

 

The way of the hedgehog

“Achoo!”

“Bless you,” I said, automatically.

“Not finished yet,” retorted the large hedgehog who’d just bumbled around the corner. “Wait for it… Achoo!”

“Bless you,” I said once more, with feeling.

“Thank you. Dusty old job, rummaging under that hedge.”

“I imagine it must be. Been dry for a long time.”

The hedgehog settled down, and started to clean himself, carefully, beginning with his nose.

“How’s business?” I asked.

“Oh, not so bad. Slugs and snails hide away deep during a drought but there’s always some good beetles to be had. Crunchy, but nice on the inside. Dry old stuff, though.”

“Just as well we’ve got a pond.”

“Life saver, is your pond. You’d be surprised how many of us little ‘uns go a’drinking and a’washing in your pond.”

I made a mental note to top up the water level next time I had the hose out.

“The more I sit here,” I said, thinking aloud, “the more I am surprised how many small creatures there are living in the garden, and around it.”

“Not so many since my missus sent the children packing to fend for themselves.”

“Thought I’d not seen them for a while. You must miss them.”

“You don’t do missing when you’re a hedgehog. Raise ’em, chuck ’em out, and start a new lot the next year. That’s the way it is.”

“Suppose so. Hope they’re doing alright, though.”

“Some will. Some won’t.”

We sat together in companionable silence, me contemplating the way of the hedgehog, him finishing his clean-up.

“Well,” he said, giving himself a good, quill-rattling shake, “time to go. I fancy a snack. Care to join me?”

“That’s very nice of you,” I said, concealing a shudder at the thought of munching down on a crunchy beetle, “but I just ate. Besides, I don’t really do beetles.”

“Each to his own. Bye, then.”

“Bye. Happy hunting.”

And off he chundled, snorting and snuffling the way hedgehogs do, leaving me to enjoy the late evening sun. I didn’t sit there too long but, before I closed the kitchen door for the night, I put a small plastic saucer of bread and milk down outside for my visitor and his missus. It’s my way of saying thank you to them for keeping the beetle population under control. Not to mention the slugs and snails.

 

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