‘Live by the foma [harmless untruths] that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy‘
Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle
Most of the time I like to think I’m a positive chap, or at least I’m generally cynical in a cheerful kind of way. But every now and then I have one of those moments of clarity that makes me question just what the hell I think I’m doing for a hobby.
Take this evening, for instance. It’s been raining all day and I’ve been digging the vegetable garden, taking time out to splash in puddles with Scarlett (an activity she absolutely loves). But seeing how it’s the last day of the holiday, and that I’ll be back in the office tomorrow, I’ve had an irresistible urge to go out and watch badgers again before I swap my camouflage clothes for my pinstripe suit.
6.30pm saw me sitting against a tree at the north side of the sett. I don’t often sit here as the wind is usually in the other direction, but today it was blowing from the south of the wood, and the north side gives a good view of the big new spoil heap.
The rain was steady. I sat on the damp ground with my camera tucked into one side of my open coat and my binoculars tucked into the other. My gear was nice and dry while I was getting nice and wet. I’d brought my camouflage umbrella with a vague idea that I’d set it up and sit under it, but I was sitting closer to the sett than I planned so I opted for a damp and inconspicuous low profile rather than comfort and left the brolly down.
I sat there for an hour, getting steadily wetter. I really must get myself a pair of decent waterproof trousers one day (prospective sponsors please note!) The badgers failed to make any appearance. Badgers don’t seem too bothered by rain when they’re out foraging, but it does seem to keep them indoors later. Sensible beasts.
By 7.30pm the light was failing, as were my hopes of an award-winning photo, or even of seeing a badger. I confess I was thinking of home, when the wind suddenly blew up, the rain started hammering down and somewhere in the wood there was a tremendous crash and clatter as a substantial branch broke off in the wind. Never mind the badgers – it was definitely time to head for home, through fields lashed by wind and rain.
As I walked I thought about what I needed to do to make badger watching in the rain a more practical option. I could rig up a small hide from my umbrella with my camouflage tarp over the top – very snug. I’ve made a waterproof cover for my camera out of an old dry-bag with the end cut off and the lens poking through the drawstring top, so I could put that into operation. I could store my gear in a dry-bag in my rucksack, rather than under my open coat. I could…
Hang on! Wait a minute! What am I doing? What am I thinking?! The obvious answer to badger watching in the rain, BWM old chap, is NOT TO DO IT! Stay at home. Drink tea. Watch TV. Read books. Don’t sit in a cold, dark, wet wood. They’re only badgers, after all. In the midst of this stark moment of clarity my beloved camouflage umbrella snapped in a gust of wind, and my disillusionment and misery were complete.
Don’t worry. It’ll take about a week for me to dry out all my gear and by then I’ll have forgotten about the discomfort and I’ll be ready to do it all again. I’ll repair my umbrella (epoxy and aluminium bar should do it). I’ll try out the umbrella/tarp hide idea. I’ll get a pair of waterproof trousers and I’ll do all the other things I planned, and I’ll be out in the wood again, come rain or shine. The call of the wild is too strong to ignore for long…