with Marjorie Spofforth
As the first slim fingers of light edged gingerly over the damp sward, dawn's rays began to reveal the myriad trails of peregrinations from the night before. A shallow depression in the grass was all that remained of the nocturnal resting-place of the crested shrew. Alongside towered the leaves of burdock, bejewelled with droplets of dew; from these hung a single hair, the sole reminder that a herd of roe deer had passed in the night.
An early sparkle of sunshine caught the silvery passage of a wartnose slug. Alongside lay the tell-tale pattern of gambolling pawprints left by a pair of hungry pine marten. No sign today of Scarnose, the old dog otter, on his favourite hauling-out point atop the muddy embankment. Instead, just the quiet, joyful ripple of water in the ditch, the busy haunt of gadwall and snipe.
A single leaf spiralling down was all there was to show for the shy marmoset that, on hearing the car-door close, had vanished into the canopy above, there to seek the safety of the tree-tops in the first warmth of the sun. Behind us pink clouds danced over the looming peaks of Surrey Hills now showing through the mist. It was time for us to re-trace our steps across the lay-by and to point the car back to the city beyond.