THE WORLD OF…SURVIVAL
An abiding childhood memory is of watching those Anglia TV-produced wildlife documentaries that started with dramatic music and then captivated their audience with the voice-over and title: “The World Of Survival.” I’ve got it in my head that the species featured usually lived in Canada or The States and these half-hour thrills would start their year in the life of a muskrat, skunk or whatever with a scenic relaxation of winters icy grip in early spring.
Think rivulets of water trickling a pin-ball downhill course under thinning ice, the drip-drip-drip of thawing stalegtites, emergence of greenery and the odd dot of colour exposed from beneath shrinking snow. Think of a beavers lodge; a dark mound in the middle of a lake and the residents swimming across enlarging open waters but all you can see above the surface is a whiskered nose. Or, a bear waking from hibernation at the mouth of its overwintering cave, and yawning.
It’s not quite The Big Country on our North Dorset hillside today. An ariel perspective wouldn’t reveal swathes of unbroken woodland and marshes as far as the camera lens could see (or wolves, moose, deer, lynx foraging across the wild frontier), but the issues in 2010 are no different here compared to there or then compared to now. I’d suggest that only circumstances change, on the knife-edge which separates life and (dread word) death.
The Hangings are darker this morning. All over, colour is returning to the landscape. There is more bird song and it has a definate lilt of relief. Blue tits are checking on the availability of nesting sites in artificial boxes. Somewhere away on high, in ancient beech or pines, woody-peckers communicate to one-another with echoing, stacatto drills. Everywhere is the sound of water being released back into the earth. Trees and shrubs relived of their weighty burden, paths cleared with a shovel yesterday affording an ever more secure grip.
The veg patch is still a swathe of white but I can now see my purple sprouting broccoli, radish tops, cabbages, onion leaves and Brussels sprouts. It’s not just the birds who’ve had their spirits lifted – at this rate I’ll soon be digging celeriac and other roots.
Copyright, Joe Hashman www.dirtynails.co.uk