Late afternoon walk with the dog, just her and me in the vast empty landscape. Flat light, still air, the day on the cusp of darkness. We walk alone save for a barn owl out hunting, describing for us the dykes and ditches that cross-hatch this marshy ground where the shrews and voles hide trembling. The ground is sodden after the long night's rain which has left the tangled brambles, willow and reeds glinting with drops, catching the last of the light. We tramp steadily my companion and I, the "schweep schweep schweep" of my denim clad legs and "thwok thwok" of wellington boots against them almost the only sound, a walking meditation.
Looping back towards home past my favourite thicket of sloes, the blackbirds' tuneful evensong turns to alarm calls, settling only when we are well past. Now the darkness is really upon us and a solo heron heads for home, the "six o'clock heron" as he is fondly known, spot on time today. Suddenly Mouse catches the scent of something and sets off at high speed, her nose inches from the ground, tail up. Off into the long grass then switching back and hurtling into the field, returning to me, then over the path and onto the marsh. Back and forth fixed on her task, pure instinct and a delight to watch, but whatever left such a trail is long gone and she falls in by my side settling again into our steady rhythm, my protector in the gloaming.