The Hare leapt out into the middle of the road. At first, because of the distance, I thought it was a rabbit, but as I drew closer, the wheels thrumming on the tarmac, I realised my mistake. It’s long stringy ears and stretched back legs, coiled like a spring with tension underneath it’s body. The legs were folded at an angle, sinews of muscle thin and rigid. It put into my mind those string pictures that were so popular in the 70s. Nails and twine stretched into a geometric shape both natural and unnatural.
It saw me, turned its head sideways and looked. I slowed. Stopped. It was 15 feet from me. It’s eye was yellow, and it’s fur was almost blue in the pale morning light. The ears now high and wary, looked soft and silky, the fur hanging like an evening gown cut on the bias.
The encounter lasted no more than 20 seconds. It jumped up, sprang forward and into the hedge on the other side of the road, disappearing as quickly as it had arrived.
Later that week I feel off my bike when watching a buzzard, high overhead. Nearly home, speeding down Church Road, the large fan shape of the tail feathers caught my eye. I slowed a bit, gazed upwards and watched as it looped slowly across the clear sky, wing feathers splayed like the delicate fingers of a ballerina. This was Elsa (or so my daughter Lyra has named her) a bird we have seen many times scanning the field and roads for prey or carrion to feed on. Elsa was an apt name – Elsa the ice queen from Disney’s Frozen. Buzzards don’t have the heat and fire and speed of the Peregrine or Sparrowhawk. The Buzzard is altogether more slow and deliberate. It is cool and steely in her pursuit of prey, her pale yellow eye seeing all with ice cold determination. I was watching her so intently that I failed to notice that I strayed from the tarmac, and went over the handlebars into the wet ditch.
From my desk a flash of green and red makes me look to the window. A woodpecker. Sat on the log store not a foot away. It fluorescent green feathers looking like a boiled sweet in the sun, The red crown as if it had passed under a child’s paint brush as she paints a London bus. It hasn’t seen me through the glare of the window. It ducks down and begins to bathe in a puddle on the drive, throwing the water over itself in a fountain of clear diamond droplets, before flitting off and up and out of sight.
The summer brings much to appreciate and enjoy, from the sparkle of the sun on the rolling sea, to the gentle rounded humps of the downs, green and high and shining in the sunlight.
Even when the sun deserts us, the grey clouds fill the horizon and the rain falls like a curtain there is beauty. I watched the rain sweep across the field near my house the other day. It started on the far side, and as I stood I saw it, an advancing grey, like the clouds where descending slowly until it reached me, warm on my face and cold on my neck, languid, lazy, heavy. Turning the ground dark.
We live in a most wonderful place. God’s creation is a wonderful thing. It should be safeguarded and honoured. Even in small moments like these, arrow prayers of appreciation and wonder we can stop and marvel, show reverence for all that God has done in creating and recreating the world around us.
I hope you get some small times this Summer to do this. Enjoy the summer break. Enjoy a rest in the garden, on the hill, on the beach. Find time to Sabbath.