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The Tuesday tree (sort of): discoveries in a lush landscape

August 21, 2012

Every family walk this summer seems to have certain things in common. Tee-shirts, in case the sun comes out, and an umbrella, in case it doesn’t. (Usually we get both sorts of weather in the space of one walk.) One boy will be on foot, the other on an outgrown bicycle. And our one little dog will come too. Since our darling spaniel’s death, the westie has become a bit better at venturing out with us: I guess he needs company too these days.

The combination of seemingly endless wet weather with some warm spells has made everything grow incredibly lush. Lime, beech and oak, hornbeam and horse chestnut: all have a rainforest verdancy.

Every path has become a green tunnel.

One odd thing, though: no sign of any conkers. We stopped at the conker tree, hopeful of a good harvest to come, but found not a single one barring a handful of tiny brown husks rotted on the stem. The boys were rather disappointed, as our faithful horse chestnut has never failed us before. I suppose this wet year has not agreed with it.

On our return home, however, a further discovery was waiting for us, and it was one that more than made up for the dearth of conkers. A teeny young hedgehog was bumbling about on the edge of our lawn. It was in full sun in the middle of the day, which is generally not the best time for hedgehogs to be out and about.

The boys were entranced, of course, although luckily the dog felt he had seen it all before and kept well back from those prickles.

Should we intervene? I don’t know, but I couldn’t bear to leave the little thing on the hot gravel, so vulnerable to predators and cars. Unlike older and wiser hedgehogs, it showed no fear at all as I picked it up to move it to a shady spot. (Though we should remember of course that very young hedgehogs cannot curl up like mature ones, so that in itself is not a sign of lack of stress.)

At least there are plenty of earthworms and insects about at the moment, so it won’t starve. It seemed none the worse for its brief encounter with humans and set off purposefully towards the woods. I’ve seen no sign of it since that afternoon (Saturday) which perhaps is a sign that it made it. I hope so.

You might enjoy a post (with hedgehog!) from last August: I am enlightened, you are laid back, she is a lazy cow.

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. August 21, 2012 3:13 am

    The hedgehog is adorable. I had a friend who had one as a pet.
    Hedgehogs make rather boring pets.
    Your green tunnel looks very lush.
    I don’t know why I am writing in short sentences.

    • August 21, 2012 6:33 pm

      Short sentences are stylish.
      The chaos of existence is rendered elliptical.
      We should all write this way.
      🙂

  2. hmunro permalink
    August 21, 2012 10:54 am

    “Rainforest verdancy,” indeed! What beautiful photographs, DB … I can practically feel the dew on my feet and smell the fresh, rain-scrubbed air. And thank you for helping your little spiny friend find his way back to a more welcoming hedgehog habitat. That last photo of him trundling off is a gem.

    • August 21, 2012 6:38 pm

      Yeah, I really must make more effort to control my tendency for purple prose. Or is that green..?!
      Hedgehogs are endlessly watchable: we are lucky to have them as neighbours.

  3. August 21, 2012 12:50 pm

    I love that last photo too! OOOh Big Trees with lush growth….. sighs wistfully. Thank you for sharing your walk with us!

  4. August 21, 2012 4:07 pm

    I too love the last photo of an indomitable little creature going its way. 🙂 It’s just as lush over here in Normandy, DB – in fact I’ve never seen everything quite so green and luxuriant as it’s been this summer. Your lack of conkers probably has the same cause as our lack of cherries, too much cold and rain at the wrong time.

    • August 22, 2012 3:52 pm

      Normandy must look beautiful, if that’s the case. How are the apples, though? I can’t imagine a Normandy autumn without cider!

      • August 22, 2012 7:00 pm

        Not good this year, DB. More than first appeared now that they are ripening, but it’s a poor harvest compared with last year.

  5. August 21, 2012 7:14 pm

    Lots of tree tunnels here in the lowlands too, which is nice. No hedgehogs, though – one took up residence in my compost bin last year and it was lovely to watch him/her coming and going. Hedgie and The Cat had an agreement and avoided each other, but the hedgehog wasn’t afraid of us humans when we were sitting outside – quite brazen, in fact 🙂 Jo

    • August 22, 2012 3:53 pm

      It sounds delightful. I’m sure one of the reasons that hedgehogs attract so much human affection – despite being even more private and aloof than cats! – is that they are so approachable. It is such a wonder to be able to get so close to a completely wild animal.

  6. Toffeeapple permalink
    August 22, 2012 4:19 pm

    How lovely that you were able to help the Hedgehog and wasn’t it pretty? We have conkers here but few apples, plums and sloes.

    • August 22, 2012 11:46 pm

      Oh, yes, hedgehogs are ridiculously cute. We have quite a lot of them here, and every encounter is an excitement for us.
      It’s a real shame about the fruit this year. The bees must have had a tough time too in the cold and wet.

  7. deb permalink
    August 22, 2012 7:29 pm

    I remember finding chestnuts when I was a child, but not found lately. I believe there was some sort of disease that did away with many of them here. Your encounter with a hedgehog was much better than ours with a groundhog. It ate much of our garden.

    • August 22, 2012 11:47 pm

      I’m very glad to say that we don’t have groundhogs in this country! Hedgehogs are much more small and harmless!

  8. August 24, 2012 5:56 pm

    What a shame about the horse chestnuts. They are (or rather were as there are very few in this part of Wales) my favourite trees, I remember them very well from my childhood, particularly the colour of the conkers which was the colour my hair used to go in the sun when I was a child.

    We have a wonderful magnolia in our garden that was a gift to the previous owners as an anniversary present and it’s flowered faithfully every year since we’ve been here – fabulous scent and gorgeous deep pink flowers but just this year it was rather sad. I put a colour-saturated photo of it in a post in my new blog a little while back that you might enjoy:

    http://artyoldbird.com/2012/08/16/remember-good-cope-with-bad/

    Probably wise to move the hedgehog if it was too far away from shelter. We had a mother and two young hedgehogs in our garden a couple of summers ago in daylight in the heat of the sun, but while it’s large our garden isn’t so big that they couldn’t get under cover with a bit of a dash!

    I hope you’re feeling a little better now. Hugs.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      August 30, 2012 11:08 pm

      Thank you, Val, the hugs are needed. I love the idea of conker-coloured hair. Thanks for the link to your magnolia post, too, which I much enjoyed.

  9. August 28, 2012 3:58 am

    “set off purposefully towards the woods” A good way to end the day. Enjoyed walking along – And give that Westie a hug from me – I still miss ours.(He always loved walkies, too)

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      August 30, 2012 11:11 pm

      Glad you enjoyed our (various) walks, human, canine and hedgehog. Our westie has been much more approachable and playful with us since our spaniel’s death. I think he’s realised that he does actually need companionship. Westies are certainly characters!

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