Beauty Of The Wild

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Some of the wonderful sights of wild-life on our doorstep

Submitted: October 17, 2014

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Submitted: October 17, 2014

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Beauty
Of
The Wild

 

What is the loveliest sight in the wild? This is a question I have asked myself again and again, but I come up with a different answer every time. 

There is, for example, the sight of fox cubs gambolling with the vixen about their nursery playground in the cool of the evening.  It is a sight that fascinates and delights. The youngsters play with the vixen’s ‘brush’, jumping over and on her. They chase their own little wisps of tails and run races; they wrestle, snarling and snapping in pretence of being angry.  And all this in the soft twilight, with murmurs of music as the wind whispers through the scented heather, while in the darkening sky a fugitive star twinkles and disappears, then twinkles again - a herald of the unnumbered host.

That is a picture never to forget, one with new-born charm each time encountered.

A little later in the year, while lying indolent in the shade, you can see the swallows hawking gnats against a sun-steeped sky. The graceful evolutions of the birds attract, compelling admiration and wonder. Then, suddenly, you see two come together in mid-air, touch beaks for a brief moment and dart away again.  It is as though they kissed each other; a fleeting, chaste expression of their love. In actual fact, it is the mother swallow feeding her new-fledged youngster on the wing. And when we know this, we vow afresh it is the prettiest picture of the wild.

I have a friend whose good fortune it is to be able to watch otters nightly.  He declares that there is nothing more delightful than the sight of a female with her young swimming, diving, hunting and playing in the clear depths of running water.

Others of my acquaintance express unbounded joy at the vision of a hind nuzzling its big-eyed fawn, or of a harvest-mouse and its family performing acrobatics on an ear of corn.

Beauty is all around; if only we pay it heed and give it time, it will share with us its grace. Don’t overlook its presence or undervalue its dearness because it bears no price tag. You can no more buy it than the soft smile of spring, or a bright sunbeam.

Each of nature’s fragments, no matter how large or small, no matter how strong or fragile, harmonizes with the universal whole yet manifests a loveliness of its own. Pause to watch the golden sun fall asleep in the dusk. Listen to the whisper of the breeze in tall grasses, and the rustle of the leaves in the majestic trees, to the rhythm of a falling shower of summer rain, and a sudden gladness will wash over you. You will feel it filter through your senses.

Beauty awaits us in the waves on the shore patiently hushing the golden sand to sleep, in a waterfall tumbling from the rim of heaven, in the veins of a rain-kissed leaf, or the exquisite geometry of a snowflake. There’s beauty in a sun-glinted stream singing softly over smooth pebbles and the wild flowers that watch it pass through dappled shadow.

But an old shepherd, with whom I once discussed the subject of beauty in the wild, dismissed all of these and insisted there was no prettier sight in the whole wide world than a squirrel giving jumping lessons to its young.  And he is not far wrong. I have watched such an entertainment, with three young grey squirrels as the pupils. They can be fascinating little creatures as they show little fear once established in a public park and will prettily beg for nuts. 

If you come quietly on the scene as a squirrel is, say, nibbling a fir cone, he ‘freezes’ the moment he becomes aware of your presence.  Immobile as a bronze figure, he sits and stares; and it is surprising the length of time squirrels and other wild creatures can maintain such immobility.

I once disturbed a fallow deer and its fawn. They galloped off immediately, but the way was uphill and the sheltering wood some distance ahead. The little one wearied, and I suddenly became aware that it was no longer running beside the doe. I assumed that it had been hidden in a clump of bracken, and as the new-sprung fronds were as yet uncurled, I wondered how the mother expected her baby to lie unseen.

Eventually, I came across the fawn. It lay there, a dark mass that caught the eye even from a distance, but it never stirred. I stood within a foot of it for several minutes, as the doe stood at the edge of the wood about a hundred yards away and watched me. She moved constantly, a picture of timid anxiety, but the fawn might have been carved out of stone.

I am filled with awe when I walk by a cornfield where a myriad of joys and jewels are on display: blue scabious, purple knap-weed, scarlet poppies, and tall daisies mingling their colours with the ripening corn. To see the hedges festooned with trails of fluffy, old men's beard, or to simply lie on my back to look up at soft, puffy clouds floating in the dome of heaven. It’s gratifying to listen to a lark trilling as it soars high overhead, and to breathe in the sweet smell of the wild, purple orchid growing amid clumps of varicoloured milkwort and starry silverweed.

Why wait to seek beauty in some other place at some other time? It is here, now, in this fleeting fragment of time, in the abstract design of frost-coated branches of the trees etched against a winter dawn, in a summer sunset, in the proud magnificence of snow-topped mountains, in a meadow full of fireflies like errant amber stars at play in the summer dusk, and the intricate beauty of a fragile, dew-spangled spider's web.

Look, feel, touch and wonder. The more closely you look and the more heedfully you listen, the more deeply you will care and feel ready to face life, not as a confrontation, but as an adventure, and to embrace the whole world.

Meanwhile, I’m still asking myself - what is the loveliest sight in the wild?

 

 


© Copyright 2020 Margaret Snowdon. All rights reserved.

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