I have established that there are some things Lyra likes more than gravy bones (her dog treat of choice). Usually any wandering off or other errant activity can be interrupted, and order restored, by bellowing loudly “Baby puppy, gravy bones” (and producing said treat). Over the last few walks, however, we established the limits of this tactic.
On Wednesday we did the usual loop around the lanes, the deer field and the fields by Simprim farm. At the corner of two fields, as I was admiring the lichen on an ancient hedgerow tree, we hit peak rabbit and Lyra was off like a streak. I could do little but watch and wave as she turned to a tiny dot. Thankfully, the rabbit jerked away from the road and, about the same time, Lyra realised she was outclassed. She ran up and down sniffing for a bit, had a good drink from a most unappetising puddle and only then deigned to come back for a compensatory treat. I slapped on the lead pronto, for a good thing, as only a few steps later I saw the scut of another rabbit running on ahead towards the road. (Lyra missed this as she was sniffing away at where the rabbit had been a moment before. I have learned to look up and ahead as soon as she stiffens and gets down to sniff.) We passed two more deer dancing up the hill before we hit the lane and meandered home, Lyra snuffling in the hedge bottoms and me peering in to spy on the birds.
Indoor pursuits followed. The “austerity wreath” was upgraded to full Christmas bling status with a mix of herbs and chilli peppers for colour. These should dry on the wreath and I can pick bits off if I can’t be bothered going out to cut some (and this may help improve the symmetry as it is a bit lopsided). This fuller version is more acceptable to Lachlan. With spare herbs to hand after this I went on to mix up Christmas pot pourri, adding cinnamon sticks and pine cones and finally finding a use for the gazillion star anise I bought two years ago. Pity I can’t do smelly vision, it smells glorious. A great pot of beany stew (not quite cassoulet but casssoulish – recipe uploaded) hit the mark in the evening. Sadly the jumper knitting thereafter went thoroughly awry. I got in a bit of a knot with three colours twisting themselves into a buggers’ muddle and had to rip back a big chunk. Ah well, the wine may not have helped. Yesterday, threatened with shredded pruning to be used up on Friday, I took to the garden and hoed and weeded the back of the hot bed in a mild drizzle for three hours. Reader I was froze. A hot bath later, ensconced in the only remaining cashmere joggers (Santa please note), I recommenced the Christmas jumper and reknitted the bit I made a mess of yesterday. I have got past the tricky bit. It should now be plain sailing to the neck.
Today’s dog walk took us along the bottom of a field lying two fields to the south of our deer field. From the moment we hit the path, Lyra was in a frenzy of excitement, snuffling the grass and running up and down the field. She passed up on two gravy bone offers! In one case absentmindedly licking then leaving one. Unprecedented! No fat rabbits were in sight today and there was no warren along the hedge. Looking more closely, though, there were myriad small two toed prints in the mud. Deer smell heaven. There was no getting madam back on the lead so she snuffled off down the path, darting left and right to inspect tracks and root in hollows. I followed on admiring the birds overhead. There was a flock of small birds in the ash hedge trees, twittering and moving from tree to tree as we strolled on. Small, slim birds with a warm gold cream underbelly, and mottled brown backs. Extensive googling (the big book of birds being packed in the great library redecoration project) suggests linnet or twite. Back home along the lane, admiring the beech hedge – a lovely colour in the low light. I snaffled a few red hips and haws on my way past and added them to the Christmas pot pourri.
Leftover beany dish for lunch proved restorative. The pruning has not emerged and shredding is postponed sine die so I am now off for a quiet sew in the garret.