It is the sameness of it all this winter. Everyday melds quietly into the next. I have been wondering how to make life different in lockdown, to gain a new perspective on things. Then I heard about night walking and thought I would give it a try. People in cities are doing it already. As long as you ‘social distance’ you are fine, and they say that you see things in a new light.
Social distancing is no problem for me as I am shielding, and I planned to walk on my own. But at the first attempt I did not get past my front door. There was a frost, and everywhere was too slippery. This week has been milder, so I tried again.
I soon found out that I would have been better in town but, of course, I cannot go there. I must stay in our own garden and fields. Here, instead of people, there are rabbit burrows, mole hills, and vole holes to avoid. I stayed on the path and walked round the house.
I heard the last call of a blackbird reluctantly leaving its prized bird-table food. I noticed the dark shapes of the looming trees and the muffle of distant traffic on the A5. I cannot say that it was inspiring.
I am not giving up though. Next time I am looking out for redwings. They are here from Scandinavia and travel around at night, in flocks, looking for food. I would not be able to see that they have red under their wings and that they are similar in colour to our thrush. But I would love to hear their swish in the darkness and spy on them as they landed, in secret, on our windfall apples.
Another bird I am hoping to see again is the barn owl. We saw it last year, around this time, just before lockdown. I was looking out of the kitchen window at dusk when it flew past. White against the evening sky I was not sure what I had seen. But then it returned and flew past in the opposite direction. Over and over, it flew with its quiet cloth wings as silent as the ghost that it looked like. Occasionally it dropped into the grass, probably onto a vole which is its favourite food. It was a breath-taking sight and to see such a rare beauty once more would certainly make my night walk worthwhile.
The catkins on the side of the A5 make another worthwhile sight, if you have a reason to be there, look out. They are full of bright yellow pollen ready to burst into spring, any time now.
(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star - Talking Point with Vicky Turrell)