After the Rain

I haven’t got long, but I need to get out – I’ve been cooped up for days. I dash out for a quick stroll round The Sanctuary.

As luck would have it, there is a break in the rain and the sun comes out – it is warm and the air is thick. Clouds of white fluff are floating slowly, almost hanging and it feels as if time has stopped. Invariably, I walk the Sanctuary clockwise, but today I am distracted by two, maybe three kingfishers, darting in and out of the trees ahead, chasing each other. Not for the first time, I find myself wondering if this is a territorial squabble or courtship. So I turn right, cross the little bridge and ever so carefully try to get a bit closer to the tumult. To no avail – the ruckus is still in full sway and I can hear them calling to each other, but I can’t see anything. I can’t see the hoo ha for the trees.

I am enjoying walking this way round – familiar places become new when approached from the other direction. I walk through swathes of blue flowers – wood forget-me-nots perhaps? Perhaps not – the leaves are wrong. They are stunning, whatever they are, and I pause in the dappled shade to drink in the colour. And then something extraordinary happens. A few yards away I spot a muntjac and it hasn’t seen me. It stands in a pool of light, and seems to be in a daze – its eyes are half closed. Perhaps it too is enjoying the sun. I stand stock still – to be so close is thrilling. There is movement in the shadows behind, and I am confused for a moment by what I see. I gradually realise that there is a fawn, not much shorter than the adult but clearly a younger animal. It walks round so that it stands between me and its mother, bends in and starts to suckle. I can’t quite believe what I am seeing. I am in the middle of the city, just a few hundred yards from the main road, there are houses all around but, here in this astonishing oasis, I am watching something as wild and as old as the hills. The Sanctuary is working its magic once more.


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