The sun, low in the sky, shows the Grove at its best and most gentle this afternoon.
The rural habit of spotting a seasonal,natural occurrence early in the season is summed up, you suppose, by those letters to the London Times in the old days claiming to have heard the first cuckoo of Spring. The habit, I think to myself, can now safely transfer from rural and natural, to urban and commercial phenomena, as I spot, on Sunday 26 October, the first Christmas tree of 2008. Is this a record?
The similarity between the big cats shown on countless tv nature programmes and the domestic cat is never more noticeable as when the domestic animal is after a bird or other local creature. Today, I watch a long bodied, ginger cat stalking a squirrel. The squirrel is engaged in eating a nut, which it has just collected from the grass. Sitting upright, it rotates the nut between its little paws. It is concentrating on the job, and may be a little less alert than usual. The cat, its tail extended for balance, moves forward in a slow, straight line, its muscles rippling. It stops, quivering imperceptibly as it waits for the moment to leap. I think that the cat cannot fail to catch the squirrel. But the squirrel runs and, as the cat skids in its tracks on the leaves under a tree, up which the squirrel scampers, is it my imagination that the cat, almost in possession of its prey, lets it go, as though the prospect of dealing with its remains, is not worth the effort. Spoilt is it? I wonder. Has a daily tin of cat food, robbed the domestic cat, of its instinct to kill.