Outside this window #62
Lush fat drops freefall, spiralling through darkness and ricochetting off the drainpipes and bricks climbing the narrow gaps between houses. I sit crosslegged on B’s crochet blanket, a map of blues sprawled across our bed, and listen to a mournful horn enticing strings to soar higher against the backdrop of gentle rain.
The mice have been trying to come in, seeking shelter to escape the jungle of a cold wet world and hide for the winter. B quietly takes care of them, assembling a delectable trap laden with peanut butter and a lump of cheese. He smiles reassuringly. “See? The last thing they will know is ….” he sniffs the air in rapture, then smacks his hands together. “He won’t know a thing.”
I met the male when I returned to check on the running hot water. He moved across the bathroom floor as though jet propelled, his sleek tawny coat stretching, enlongating his elastic body as he desperately dove out of sight, trying to escape my unfortunate chicken-like scream obliterating his eardrums. I was in the bath when I heard the snap. I felt wretched until B reminded me how fast they will multiply. Not to mention our house is a prize for mice on our street: a feline free home. Until they encounter B, the old cat himself, and flee to take their chances with kitties.
Elsewhere life continues to flourish despite the wet and the cold. The pair of foxes are now three beauties. They trot up our road at night; jaunty and insolent and beautiful. I watch them from the window seat. Sometimes they glance up. They terrorise any adolescent cats on the street, these uninitiated newbies to nocturnal wildlife. Older cats are not easily intimidated; these geezers have earned their stripes and covet their time prowling through the back gardens of every home, screaming at each other as they attempt to pass through newly occupied gardens.
A few weeks ago I saw a young guy from the top of our road sprinting after my auburn trio. I ripped the kitchen window open to tell him to bugger off, but saw he was protecting a young cat cradled in his girlfriend’s arms. The cat was fine, the girlfriend in tears and the young man ready to kill. The foxes trotted away from him, slow enough to allow the man to think he had a chance, and fast enough to keep him running flat out with no reward. Their knowing amber eyes betrayed nothing, except a slight smirk playing on their lips. Nights were warmer then. Now it’s only the foxes and the rain, and the occasional surly crow.
I saw my trio as I emerged through the automatic doors into the car park of our local supermarket recently. They blinked at me guiltily. I smiled and asked What are you three up to, and why are you here? Their still yellow eyes asked the same question of me. We stood staring at each other until I moved on, walking towards them, taking my usual route home. Two of them turned and sauntered off into the car park while the larger of the three trotted beside me just out of reach before cutting me off to inspect the charity bins. Fearlessness has an irresistible beauty.
I love our street; even the mushy jewel coloured leaves — a death trap — we tip toe around them and up our quiet road before meeting the chaos of London less than a minute’s walk from our front door. The stillness here at home is a cocoon, shielding us from the distant wail of sirens and horns, transforming the constant roar of traffic into distant, comforting white noise of the ocean heard through the cupped world of a shell.
And I write.