I used to wander early every
morning, [unless it was raining,] around one of the fields that
surrounds this old Village that is mentioned in the Domesday Book of Norfolk.
Most mornings it was hardly light. My two Jack Russell's loved people, but
hated other dogs and little Jim would hurl himself at any dog, no matter how
big, which was dangerous for them both [ sadly Jimmy has died] so I
travelled out before others were up. I loved these solitary walks.
An old barn owl would float over my
head silently, and then perch on an old post, and wait for us to draw level. At
first he would take of as we got nearer but over the days he began to get more
confident with us. In the end we would stop level with him, just a couple of
yards away, and I would tell him what a fine looking fellow he was, and how
proud we were to be able to hold a conversation with him. This went on for
months, and then one morning on the very spot where he would float over our
heads, as we walked along this country road, I saw a huddled form lying there.
It seemed that our old friend had been struck by a vehicle, I picked him up,
held that soft little form, still warm in my hands, whispered "so sorry old
buddy, we'll miss our little chats". I took him off the road, and laid him at the
foot of the old post where we had met so many times, covered him up with leaves
and some rocks, said a quiet farewell and left him to Mother Nature. This
depressed me for a while, as I missed his silent crossing and surveying of us
over that part of the road, the field seemed empty now without that beautiful
bird perched on that old post listening with apparently complete attention, as
I expounded on some indignity that had happened in the world.
Many months later, we were on our usual
trek around this five acre field, the ground had been churned up by some huge
machine, and the earth lay bare. Walking along, my foot hit an object. I bent
and picked it up, and there in my hands was a rusted relic of an old horse
plough-share. Holding this familiar relic of my past, I closed my eyes and for
a moment. I was back in time, calling out to old Jack. I eased the little one
horse plough into the soft fen soil and just for a while I was turning again
the black glistening sod of Hockwold Fens. I then threw this little object deep
in the centre of the big hedge, to let it rust its way out of this world,
leaving me with my memories of those gloriously happy days. I walked slowly on,
feeling a bit depressed. Here I was, a silly old man rushing back to savour a
moment's memory of days gone by. I stopped and said sternly "now stop this
nonsense, this is today, that was yesterday, yesterday is gone, do you hear me?
Gone!" Then looking up in the slowly brightening sky, I saw this young barn
owl, showing his clumsy youth in the deep bopping of his flight, as he circled
way above me. "Good morning laddie", I whispered , "glad to meet you, I knew
your Dad, you are very welcome". I lifted my head. I felt joyful, all is well
with the world, and I took our journey back home, leaving that poignant
reminder rusting away in the hedge, along with our old friend the barn owl,
that was the past, now is today, and every day is a bonus.