pleasure tour of duty

instead of guiding the Nog across the road into the enclosed woodland
where he can run safely on the way up to Sarah Justina’s monument,
I take a tour of my small farm.
This is for the amenity – sheer pleasure of grass and flower and tree-
and secretive wildlife:
also I reconnoitre targets in
long slender dockan stems surmounted by great bottlebrush seed heads,
thistles growing limbs with flowerheads like Hydra,
newly reinforced with subtle ragwort
preparing a second front
and there is something else that crosses between
appreciation and function.
I remind myself here
– a sense of the place-
what is now and what is latent.

I stand for a long time watching the calves, teasing out their qualities, their potential;
in the weaning paddock  aspen suckers set leaf among the thistles:
perhaps this year I should not top them
but fence off and weed by hand to allow the new woodland.
The Nog is pointing- steady while I approach, lean forward to identify the quivering black lining to a hare’s limpid eye.
When she breaks he follows briefly but is checked by a tap of my stick.
The long tail of a hen pheasant projects from a dockan clump
a pace further on
motionless within my reach and the dog’s predatory interrogation.
It can only mean she is sheltering eggs or chicks-
foolish oriental import, shotgun fodder,
lion-hearted mother.
I call the Nog,
thankfully negligent of her presence
on to the next pasture
and other prospects.


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