Chasing Shadows

A quick lunchtime stroll around the Sanctuary, and I’m chasing shadows – glimpses of movement, flitterings and scutterings, and an emptiness where the recently departed animal or bird sat. It’s like this all the way round – they can see me coming today. Half seen beasts scurry away, birds scarper, and I am left with the notion of what was there a moment before. Like a jigsaw with a missing piece. Even the newts in the pond are at it. I see what I take to be a tail sticking out from under the weed,  when there is a sudden flick and it’s gone – just a tiny swirl of mud lifted by the movement.

It is warm and a little overcast, the mild weather continuing into November. But it feels good to be out of the office, crunching leaves and smelling the deep rich autumnal humus, with sudden sweet tangs of fermenting apple.


I duck down under a low branch and find myself face to face with a muntjac, stunned and stock-still. The least likely of the Sanctuary’s creatures to be standing still in company, you normally don’t see them for dust. This one allows me a proper look at its pretty face, a dark chevron, like mannered eyebrows, meeting at the bridge of its nose. And then it too is gone, vanishing before my eyes – it was probably still for less than three seconds. An instant of mutual something – hardly recognition, even less likely to be understanding. But something  shared all the same as we held each others gaze before returning to our respective worlds.

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