Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It's raining horse chestnuts

I witnessed something wonderful today.  I was walking home on my usual route, through a tiny woodland, and I heard something.  Dull thuds, repeated and repeated and repeated.  Pit-pat-pit-pat-pitpatpitpatpitpat.  Pit.  Pat.  Pit.  Pat. Pit-pat-pit-pat.

And so on.  I looked up to the trees and could see the branches shaking.  I saw a wing flapping.  It must be a bird, thought I, pecking about for seeds or some such.

Around me I could hear the continued, quite loud thud of things dropping from the canopy.  Looking up, I could see the branches shake and the leaves catch as the things tumbled down from on high.

I tried desperately to watch them as they fell, hoping to work out what they were.  I could see the signs of their fall, but it was difficult to catch them in the last few second of descent.

Eventually, I tracked a loud thud to the ground and marvelled at what I found: horse chestnut shells.  Not whole, but in pieces, after something had chewed through them.

I turned my gaze upwards, still thinking a bird had been at them.  Then I noticed a grey fluffy tail, curiously, it looked a touch red in the early evening sunlight.  It whizzed along the branches, led by a scurrying rodenty body.  As I continued watching, the leaves began that now familiar shake and the pit-pat-pi-pat-pit-pat started again.

It was no bird.  It was a squirrel, possibly two squirrels.  They must have been stripping the trees.  I was
there for a good fifteen minutes and the thudding of the shells paused for only a fraction of a second.

I picked up three shells.  One had a grey squirrel hair attached to it, now sadly lost.

I stood and watched and listened for another five minutes then continued my walk home.

The best end to an average day.

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