It’s that time of year – again. Funny how the seasons keep on coming around, but it’s always a bit of a surprise when you notice. When I notice, I mean.
The last few mornings, mist has hung like a stage backdrop behind the sand dunes across the golf course. Only just visible through the trees. As the hidden sun, somewhere, begins to rise, the vapours crawl stealthily inwards, up under the drooping arms of the evergreens, then evaporate.
For a few gilded moments a light the colour of golden syrup drizzles over everything. Then morning licks it off – and the world is just the same as it was yesterday.
The day passes in the usual ways, then, come seven in the evening, we banish e-world and pour a glass of wine. A casserole is reaching slow-cooked unctuousness in the oven.
We stand at one of the side windows – upstairs in our topsy-turvy house – looking down on a mess of brambles, Rosebay Willowherb and wild honeysuckle. The resting place, we suspect, of our local glossy-furred fox.
His paths in and out are obvious and we’ve seen him there, basking in the sun.
The blackberries are already drying up – the ones the birds haven’t eaten. (And then pooed out in deepest purple on our pearly white car).
The honeysuckle is sporting vibrant red berries.
Seed heads everywhere are spreading nature’s mayhem in the golf course rough that wraps around us like a lush fur collar.
The light is fading more quickly than yesterday. The technicolour ribbons of sunset are draped further to the west.
By eight o’clock, as we sit down, replete, to watch more news of the refugee crisis, the bats are flitting.
The reports from mainland Europe and the Middle East are distressing. We won’t avoid them, but when we’ve seen the latest harrowing scenes, we switch off and sit without the lights on.
We open the window on the darkness engulfing our quiet, cul-de-sac world. Because an owl is calling. Not once, far off, but nearby and repeatedly.
Not a too-whit-too-whoo owl. A sort of cross between a hooty and a gentle-howly owl. It’s a tawny owl, a male. (I Googled owl sounds, to be sure )
We sit for ages, in the cool night air. Then shut the window, draw the curtains – the season really is changing – and head downstairs for bed.
Next morning, I realise we’ve left the cushions out in the rain, on the balcony that leads off our dining room. We keep two chairs and a table there, where we can relax overlooking our little garden. Peer through the trees at green vignettes of distance, framed by branches. Watch birds doing what birds do. Bathing, chasing, mating, pecking, flying. And eating.
As I open the sliding door I notice that something has made a rather large deposit on one of the wooden decking slats.
And it’s not a poo.
As I turn to come back in there’s no ignoring the trail of blood, graffiti-like, running down the brick wall beneath our outdoor light.
The price of our concert by the solo owl? Or a visit by the sparrowhawk?
A reminder, if nothing else, that nature is red not just in tooth and claw, but beak, as well.
Now that autumn’s here, there’ll probably be no more opportunities to sit out on the balcony. But – who knows? The eternal British weather optimist, I still hope for an Indian summer.
And yes, someone kind – and less squeamish than me – has volunteered to clean up the guts.
But I think we’ll leave the graffiti.