September, An Invisible Herd of Red Deer.
Dickie, George and Dean have all told me that they’ve seen a herd of forty red deer recently. I’ve never seen the whole herd but I’m very aware that I’m not the biggest creature living here. I’d have to be blind not to notice huge hoof prints and piles of dung. Not to see the paths only really large animals could make, not to wonder at the fence neatly squashed, not to see the crushed vegetation and not to notice the browsing. But only very occasionally do I actually see one or two of them. Their size is shocking in this intimate landscape. An unexpected creature as big as a horse, suddenly, between me and the horizon (that alder tree about twenty foot away) causes my heart to take refuge in my throat momentarily. I’m more used to seeing them on the vastness of a Scottish mountain, with them carefully keeping airy miles between us. It’s astonishing that here in this over populated, intensively farmed corner of Britain, a large herd of our biggest mammals not only thrives but hides. I enjoy the thrill of knowing these gigantic beasts are here but never really seeing them. Knowing that I probably walk right past them as they rest in the tall grass, forty pairs of gentle eyes watching as I amble along day dreaming. That we can happily share this place, aware of each other and not much concerned. That this small spot, an island in an ocean of cultivation, is rich enough to make invisible an army of giants.