The morning starts late. The sun is already up and we are having a coffee in bed. I am exempt from dog walking as Lachlan’s lecturer is off sick. Something black moving in the corner of the window catches my eye. It is a butterfly. I sip my coffee and resist the urge to spring out of bed to rescue it. It’ll be fine. I can see the trees bending in the wind, poor thing is better off in here I think. I’ll get it later. Pingu strolls in, checks for any sign of the dog and hops on the bed for a stroke. But the butterfly catches its eye too and he adds off to the window to see if he can catch it. I crack. My birdcatching skills extend to large butterflies it seems. I can feel the wings beat surprisingly strongly against my hand as I push them through the open window to let it out. Back in bed I am sipping my coffee when Keith’s phone goes off. A FaceTime call from Lachlan in the field. We exchange morning pleasantries with the coos. It transpires that the morning off is now cancelled and I am back on dog detail.
A quick shower, coffee and pastry later Lyra and I are striding forth towards the field. The Coos are sitting down in a neat triangle formation, surveying us with interest. A bad sign – it is “weel kent” that a sitting cow means rain. The sun is shining and the sky is blue where we are heading but behind us the clouds are gathering. By the time we get to the little wood, when I look back, the sky is a blue grey purple like the bloom on a damson before anyone has touched it. The clouds are skudding towards us at a rate of knots. I wonder if we will be coming back in the rain. But onwards we go, where it is still sunny and with the wind at our backs assisting us along. The ryeland sheep are out in the next field so we mooch over to say hello. They are so inordinately woolly I imagine they hardly feel the wind. We crackle along over the fallen beech and oak leaves, the trees are mostly bare now, and the wind whips a few up to dance before Lyra’s eyes – autumn spindrift. Lyra has worked out that are heading for the stubble field, where she gets off the lead and where there are rabbits, hare and deer to be found. She is most frustrated that I don’t want to take the rabbit shortcuts under the barbed wire fence and insist on the long way round.
As we reach the corner I am distracted by a flock of birds rising from the field on the other side of the shelter belt. They are quite large brown birds with a swooping swirling action. I suspect them of being fieldfares but with the sun behind them it is hard to tell. I feel Lyra tugging at the lead, which I have forgotten to take off and look down. Following her gaze I can see two young deer, does I think but small – probably their first season – in the trees. I hang on and they dart off. Lyra gets a compensatory dog biscuit whilst I wait to make sure they are away and then I let her off for a run. She tears up and down smelling where the deer have been for a few seconds, then pootles over to see if there might be another biscuit on offer. My home made dog biscuits seem to be addictive. I am the Walter White of the dog world. And then just as I am getting out the gear she turns and streaks off. Three deer now, a taller doe and the two smaller ones, have appeared. Lyra keeps pace with them but doesn’t try to cross into their field. They float away and she belatedly remembers the dog biscuit. We crunch on across the stubble in a companionable way. The grey clouds are catching up with us and I can feel moisture in the air as I reattach the lead before heading through the gate to the road. Just at this point a hare darts out and I am too focussed on hanging on to Lyra to worry about the weather.
A further compensatory dog biscuit later, the hare is well away and we have made the road. The damp mist is now definitely a drizzle. We pause to wave to Ross in the DPD van and I also notice a throb in my heel which feels like an incipient blister – curse those second best wellies! The walk back is going to be a slog. By the time we reach Butterlaw corner the rain is steady and trending toward the stair rod. Lyra looks hopefully around Sue’s garden gate and there she is, rescuing a damp jumper off the line. I put up no resistance whatsoever to Sue’s offer of a run home. Lyra is most excited to squeeze into Auntie Sue’s car, and offers to assist with the driving.
Once home Lyra snoozes in front of the fridge and I anticipate a nice long guilt free sewing session, rain having prevented weeding. I’ll just knit a bit of neck band first. Eons pass and the neck band has barely grown at all. I abandon the knitting and head for my garrett in a determined fashion. Lyra takes the opportunity to escape and invade Raymond’s garden. Following the dog recapture exercise I regroup and find that somehow it is now after 3pm and the sun is falling fast. I reach for the kettle and the Werther’s originals. Maybe I’ll just read for a bit.