Friday, 9 March 2007

Pheasants and things

I looked up from dishwashing and saw a pheasant on the lawn. I decided to go and have a closer inspection, maybe take a photo. It was a beautiful day again after all (diary note - that makes three in a row now). I snuck carefully up the side of the lawn, camera at the ready, to where it was ambling about. Too far away still. Must get closer. Sneak up some more. Bother, sun in eyes. Golly, don't pheasants have good camouflage - can't see the bloody thing at all now he's snuffling about in the shrubs. Ah, hear he comes, just get the camera......Oh God, it's Molly coming to be companionable, with immaculate timing of course. Pssst, Molly, bog off...can't you see I'm trying to take a photo of a pheasant? Molly, MOLLY...crouches low and hurtles into the bushes. Pheasant squawks, flies inelegantly over wall and away. Bloomin cat. Good to have you back. Honest.

Moll likes her wild stuff. In London she frequently came out the wrong side of a scuffle with the fox that left his calling card all over our lawn. With suitable irony, now we're in the country and despite hunting bans, you can't see a fox for love nor money. But there are plenty of rabbits. I went up to the girls' bedroom one spring morning and as I went to get some clothes out of their wardrobe I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. Tentatively, I inched the laundry basket away from the wall and two beady black eyes stared up at me. I wasn't sure who was more bemused, me or the rabbit. Molly, of course, was nowhere in sight. She'd obviously got bored with the chase. So there I was, instead of getting the children dressed and ready for school, diving around the room in hot pursuit of Bunny. We were late of course and I think the teachers just thought my excuses were getting wilder and wilder. Well, literally-speaking, I suppose they were. Anyway, then came the knotty problem of what to do with this thing. Dump him, still in shock, back into the field only to be caught by Molly again, or keep him under observation for a while. I decided on the latter and scooped him up into the cat's carrying basket (the one that spells V-E-T and causes her to go all sweaty pawed). He was looking a little the worse for wear and seemed to have lost his appetite. But then, who wouldn't, if presented with a limp old bit of lettuce which had been heading for the compost heap? I imagined hot sweet tea was more than the situation required and settled on a bowl of water. Bunny shuffled to the back of the basket and showed me his back. I decided to leave him to it.

Some hours later I went to check on our furry little friend only, horror of horrors, to find the basket empty, though the buckles still in place. Houdini would have been proud. Baffled, I began frantically searching round the room and soon found him huddled up behind the rubbish bin. A bit of lunging and scurrying followed till I had him safely back in the not-so-foolproof basket. I felt the time had come to re-naturalise so I plopped him into the field opposite and wished him well. What more could I do? We all have to take our chances in life, after all. You just have to keep hoping today's not the day.

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