Last night I went for a walk around 11.00pm to see if I could spot the badgers foraging in the pasture field, although if I’m honest with myself this was just an excuse to get outside.
There is something truly magical about being outdoors on a summer night. It was a beautiful, clear, warm night with a nearly full moon – it was the perfect night to be out and about. Few people, I suppose, deliberately go out in the dark these days, but they’re missing out. Just to be out in the countryside on a night like this is special in a way that I simply cannot put into words.
By 11.30 I was sitting with my back to the great old stag-headed oak on the top of the hill in the pasture field. It seemed that I could look out over the whole of Bedfordshire – the woods and fields, houses and roads – stretching out before me in the moonlight. Once again the whole world was asleep while I was joyously awake and alive.
At 11.45 a badger came trotting up behind me. Poor thing. I was sitting facing the wood with the wind in my face because for some daft reason I expected the badgers to come out of the wood, even though they would have started foraging hours ago. This badger must have been out in the field already, and it must have come across my scent being blown behind me and decided to hurry past. Ah well, let it go. No point in disturbing it further.
On my way back home I came almost face to face with another badger in the cornfield at the bottom of the hill. I know they use this field and they feed here, but this was the first time I’ve caught one in the act.
I had my camera with me but I didn’t take any pictures. Taking pictures would have meant using the camera flash. To have suddenly lit up the scene with a harsh, artificial light seemed somehow crass and insensitive and sacrilegious, almost like shouting in a cathedral. I was content to sit and watch and to be a part of the night myself, to share the night with the creatures around me.
Perhaps the magic of a summer night can only be experienced first hand, and not captured and brought home.