Postaday2011: Through the window

A few years ago now I lived in a small farm village, around 20 or so houses and on the edge of the Downs. Above us was a nature reserve and biggest natural yew forest in Europe. This was the best time of my entire life and every day was like getting up in the morning and knowing you are on holiday. I am not saying life was easy but every time I looked out of the window, day or night, life reminded me that nothing could ever compare to what mother nature has given us.

I have looked through the window on summer nights and seen the moon so big and red as she rose over the hill above our house that everything was stained pink. The harvest moon was radiant in her finest gown, as she rose up into the sky she changed from red, to pink to yellow and got smaller and smaller. Yet at her highest her silver light lit the lanes like daylight and bathed me in that comfort that only the moon can.

On sleepless hot summer nights I slept with the window open and the sounds of the countryside slipped over the sill and whispered of a life beyond what I had, a freedom, a dangerous life and one where I was not welcome apart from to listen to its whisperings.

Early dusk heard the peacock as he called hauntingly across the valley, in the undergrowth a rustling and snuffling announced the arrival of the hedgehog looking for food. Above it all was the chorus of evensong as the birds sang their hearts out in praise of the ending day. As their throats relaxed and became silent, the owls hooted and screeched from the surrounding woods. Barn owls, tawny owls, screech owls, little owls, creatures of the night that hunted silently, listening for the tiny rustles that indicated the presence of mice and voles. In the fields the sheep and cattle grew more silent with just gentle and calm lowing and bleating as the night drew on. If I listened and stayed still, the leathery wings of pipistrelle bats and long-eared bats flapped around me and their small high-pitched squeaks, barely audible, echoed through the silent night sky.

The night music lulled me into a comfortable sleep and the moon shone, silver across my pillow, caressing me with her eerie light. These were the sounds I heard every night as I drifted to sleep and those that I remember today on sleepless nights.

Last night I opened my window as dusk fell and listened. A solitary blackbird sang and was then echoed by another somewhere in the distance, they then fell silent. Cars whizzed past my window until eventually they too became silent. In the summer the blackbird sings his note longer and later; against the darkening sky I might see a small bat but I can no longer hear the wings beating or their high pitched calls against the distant hum of the traffic.

I woke at 3.47 unable to sleep this morning and immediately I knew why. There was a strange sound outside my window, like a cat barking. I opened it wide to see what it was and a large male fox stood opposite our house making its rasping bark. I clapped my hands to frighten it away and it stopped and looked at me. Undeterred it walked across the road and stood beneath my window looking up at me. I walked around the car outside our house and sprayed before coming back to look at me. I spoke to it. ‘I am watching you’ I whispered. The fox stood still and watched me back.

Somewhere in the distance another fox barked and my one turned to listen, looked back at me and walked away round the corner. The night was silent again until the blackbird began her song just before dawn.

How different the sounds of the town are from the countryside, how lonely. Along with my sleep, the predictability was broken only by the fox, and the distant sound of a siren. How I yearn again for the sounds of the countryside, those sounds that are so noisy and disturb the sleep of visitors, yet are my comfort and solace. I welcomed the fox, but one urban fox, brave and confronting, does not substitute a whole nightime cacophony of night creature  noises of the countryside.

I sleep each night in the town, winter and summer alike, with my window open, hoping for something that will transport me back to when my bed was surrounded by the music of the night serenading me through the open window. I weep silently for what can never be again yet, I never stop dreaming.



2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    I’ve always lived in the city so I never had this experience but your description of living in the country sounds so wonderful! Such beautiful words you use to describe things!

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