Monday, August 20, 2007


It was a funny sort of day. The weather was unpredictable, but she had decided to make the trip anyhow. She was wearing a dark blue wind-cheater and a pair of stout galoshes. At the age of eighty -four she noted that it took her roughly 11 minutes longer to get round the lake than it had last year. The steps of the hide were also quite treacherous, especially as they were currently damp. She held onto the handrail and made her way carefully towards the wooden door where she paused, listening for sounds.
There were none.
Inside the hut her eyes had to adjust to the dark. The slightly damp indoors/outdoors smell was familiar and comforting. She put out her hand to where she knew the wooden catch would be and lifted the plank which made the viewing slat. It clipped into pace and she took her time, sitting first the wrong way around on the bench and then carefully lifting one leg at a time over it. The bench was covered in some old carpet but she needed to be careful nonetheless.
Her favourite part was taking out the binoculars that had been a birthday present fifteen long years before. They fitted into her hands so well, although she had to keep a handkerchief to wipe her eyes, as the combination of the breeze and the closeness of the eyepiece made her eyes water somewhat.
She had been watching quietly for about fifteen minutes when she heard footsteps on the wooden steps outside, accompanied by whispers.
"There's someone in there."
The latch lifted and a young woman entered behind a small boy who may have been about eight years old. They said hello, which was preferable to silence in such a small and intimate space. She noted that the woman's shoes were completely unsuitable: those very low but narrow heels which would sink straight into an inch of mud. She let them settle, noting that the woman watched for a while and then handed the binoculars to the boy, whispering, did he want to look? Every time she did so, he shook his head and pushed them back toward her in an odd reversal of the parent child roles.
"Can you see the Flycatcher up there in the willow to the left?"
The woman turned her binoculars in that direction, but it was obvious that she had not seen the bird, as her gaze remained unsettled.
"He's just between the branch that forks left and the next tree. Oh, I haven't seen a Flycatcher for many years. See how he swoops, there! Did you see him?"
But the woman seemed distracted.
The boy did not want to look and the woman got up to leave. The boy closed the slat and they left silently.

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