Friday, 28 April 2017

Local patch 7

The large badger sett on the trail between our villages is in the raised bank of the rhyne. The trail is bordered by apple and willow and blackthorn: typical, beautiful Somerset. There is fresh digging around several ancient entrances and lots of snuffle holes in the meadow adjacent. One evening we will go and watch - it just needs to be a little warmer.

That we share our landscape with such a large mammal is quite glorious, but that we see mostly dead ones on the roads is a great sadness. However, maybe we should bear in mind this cautionary tale before we head off on a badger watch ...

Our sons are young men now, they have mostly left home. We love our empty nest, quiet house and fridge that stays full of fresh food! But they return with alarming regularity to reconnect with each other and eat for free. And during the summer they come back to play cricket for the team in the next village. The village cricket ground is bordered by the rhyne where the sett is. The cricketing day finishes in the pub where they celebrate their victories and drown their sorrows. And then, in the singing small hours, our lads weave their way home along the rhyne and across the meadows. Someone always falls in. Sometimes they all do. Often they will lie in the fields and watch the stars spinning across the heavens. Beer has everything to do with it.

One evening last summer as they made their less than impressive way home, they were startled by two badgers that ran past them along the narrow track. Blinking in disbelief, the boys watched as the badgers got to the end of the track, found their way blocked and turned around. Family mythology has it that the badgers then charged our 6ft sons, grunting menacingly. The boys shrieked and jumped into the deep, duckweed-filled rhyne as the badgers held the upper ground - and the upper hand. 
They run surprisingly fast, 'and they looked huge in the moonlight, Mum' I was told.

'You have basically been run off the path by a giant weasel', I said, as I stored up the precious memory in my storybox.

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