September 2023: "From A New Forest Inclosure” by Ian Thew

September 2023: "From A New Forest Inclosure” by Ian Thew

What a hectic time of year this is.  Just lately life seems to gallop away with unrelenting haste. This manic period when each day started just after dawn and finished well after sunset meant that normal, everyday chores were put on the backburner and when, eventually, I was able to find the time to take a stroll down the garden, I was in for a shock. The lawn was in dire need of a haircut!  As I walked past the stables I was looking behind at the unkempt lawn and making a mental note to get the mower out when something grabbed at my shirt sleeve and, at the same time, I felt a sharp tug on my ear.  All thoughts of grass cutting vanished as I automatically raised a hand to my ear only to receive a painful jab to my finger. Instantly, the preservation instinct kicked in and I lunged forward, away from this unseen assailant, straight into the unrelenting barbs of a bramble that, during the past few days of no-maintenance on my part, had sent forth, over the fence, several long and sinuous tendrils which dangled in the path of this unsuspecting gardener. Gingerly, I freed my clothing and torn earlobe from the tenacious prickles and at the same time managed to drop my hand into a bunch of nettles that had also taken advantage of my absence and spread into my domain. 

I cursed inwardly and went in search of a dock leaf to ease the tingling effect of the nettles; and I didn’t have to look far, for in the kitchen garden I was greeted by an abundance of these broad, leathery leaves. They too had enjoyed a holiday from the hoe and whilst many had popped up between the cabbages and carrots even more peeped at me from among the beans and peas.  Mother Nature it seems doesn’t take time off and, when some of us do, we have to be prepared to pay the penalty. And I was certainly going to pay over the next day or two! 

On a more cheerful note, we’ve had two unusual sightings up here in the Inclosure.  A few days ago there appeared an unusual and gawky bird with an enormous maw of a beak. It was, without doubt, a young cuckoo and a very late young cuckoo at that for cuckoos don’t stay for long and have usually all departed by the time that August arrives.  Even more surprising were its host parents which appeared to be a pair of chaffinches; perhaps the decline in its more usual hosts such as reed warblers or dunnocks had encouraged some enterprising cuckoo to dump its egg into the nest of an alternative species. 

Our second sighting was even more unusual in this day and age.  A hedgehog was found wandering across the track in broad daylight and, fearing for its safety, my companion picked it up and after tickling it’s tummy for a while placed it in the bracken where, with a wiggle of its spines, it snuffled off about its business. 

Must go now before you get prickly too!     

Ian Thew 

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