Dog and I set off down to the river. She knows she needs a stick but maybe misjudged it with this one.
With every day there are more wood anenomes by the track down to the river. How do they grow clinging to the edge of the track, in the scant earth between tree roots?
The dog bounds ahead, stopping every now and then to look back and wait for me, as if tethered by an invisible lead. The trees above my head are full of birdsong, the long liquid call of a blackbird seems to follow me down the track, moving from tree to tree as I go. Half way down a buzzard glides above the open field to my right, low enough for me to see the pattern on the undersides of its wings.
In the bottom of the valley the river is fast and clear. It is not a big river, the Wheeler, but here and there are pools deep enough to make the dog swim, which she loves. She emerges black and shining like a seal.
We head upwards from the river along the lane which runs at the bottom of our valley. The fields are full of lambs and sheep. Higher up we find the body of a fox by the path. It can't be long dead, curled as if sleeping.
They are beautiful animals but these days my sympathies are firmly with the chickens. Our own are scratching about under the quince tree when we get home. The dog is learning to ignore the chickens, particularly when the chickens ignore the dog.