The weather has been unpredictable recently – and whilst I recognise that the irony of this is that the most predictable thing about British weather is its unpredictability – it has been notably changeable recently; switching between rain, boiling hot sunshine and thick cloud.
Tonight, whilst sitting at home in my pyjamas, I make a sudden arbitrary decision to hop in the car and drive over to the fields near Chyvarloe, on the Lizard coast. Whilst the walk itself wasn’t a snap decision, I had originally decided not to go out tonight due to a thick fog which was settling in across South West Cornwall, but there was something alluring about it and I felt the powerful urge to explore.
Getting out of the car, the first thing I always notice about the area is the silence. It hits you hard, as though it is too loud. But after a minute or two, your brain adjusts and you start to hear other sounds; the call of the snipes as they take off into the sky from the long grass, displaying their usual drumming ritual as they reach dizzying heights before dropping to the ground and disappearing into the long grass strands again. Soft ‘moos’ from young calves in neighbouring fields enjoying their first few months of life, the swoosh of air as swallows perform aerobatics, catching insects on the wing and the occasional pheasant crow punctuating the air from the undergrowth.
Tonight however, as the silence in my ears dissipates, I am not met with any of these sounds. Instead all I can hear is the distant roar of the waves as they crash over one another in a desperate attempt to break on the shore.
I walk. There is a succession of fields here, each one slightly different to the next. One of cut grass sits next to a meadow which leads in to a wheat field which backs on to a sand bank…each a different habitat supporting a plethora of wildlife. But not tonight. As I walk, I can’t see the crows hanging around in the bare trees, or hear the jackdaws chattering away as they squabble over their roost for the night, or see the white flashes of rabbit’s tails as they dart through the grass, leaping and bounding above the florets. After a good 45 minutes of strolling interspersed with long moments of standing and taking in the white blanket over the view, I decide to head back to the car. Whilst I am disappointed that the walk has not produced the usual sights, being outside is always therapeutic and overall I feel relaxed. As I cross the field closest to the tiny car park, a strange feeling seeps over me; the uncomfortable feeling that I am being watched. I stop and my eyes search through the fog for the culprit. They lock with another set; yellow and striking and staring straight back at me. Just over the brow of the hill, the fox sits, watching me, observing my every move, before yawning and casting its gaze around the rest of their field. It returns to look at me for a moment before suddenly, with a flick of its bushy tail, it turns and disappears through a well-trodden hole in the hedgerow.. I wait, to see if it will return, but it has moved on.
The fog is thicker now, swirling around me as I watch the hole, which is slowly fading as it is swallowed by the mist. The night is beginning to seep through the clouds and whilst the foxes evening is just beginning, I take my cue that my evening here, is over.