Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Jarvis Goes Missing . . .
Jarvis wasn't here at breakfast time, which is unusual for him. He normally arrives back from a night on the tiles about 9 a.m. and if he hasn't eaten too many bank voles or baby bunnies, he will have breakfast and then snooze on our bed. But not today. He wasn't here at lunchtime. By teatime he still hadn't put in an appearance and I was beginning to worry. I always fear the worst (default setting when it comes to animals and family) and so I decided I would walk up to the top of the hill to set my mind at rest that a car hadn't hit him . . .
The sun had come out just after lunch and the walk up the hill was in sunshine. I gloomily noted that there were only three Aquilegia plants showing growth after a bonanza of a dozen last year. The farm next door often has extra-wide farm vehicles which, on our narrow lanes, carve out chunks of our field bank - always, it seems, the bits with Aquilegias growing in them. Sigh.
I noticed the leaves coming out on the wild Gooseberries in the hedgerow just beyond our field boundary, where there is a strip of box hedging. I think it's quite possible there was a little cottage or dwelling of sorts here once, and later on I noticed a lot more leggy wild Gooseberry bushes along our fence line in that same area.
I plodded on up the hill, calling "Jarvis" and "puss, puss, puss". I thought I heard a miaow but couldn't locate it clearly. I carried on to the top of the hill, and all along the hedgerows was new life growing through the soil - the unmistakable leaves of what my mum always called "Shirtbuttons" and which I know as Stitchwort; Wood Sage, Dog's Mercury, a few chilled-looking Primroses, Celendines, Navelwort, Shining Cranesbill, and flowers on the Wild Strawberries too.
There were a pair of Mallards swimming round on Next Door's pond, and a Buzzard high above me heading towards the river valley. Black Mountain (the very end of the range of the Carmarthen Fans - Bannau Sir Gar) was misty in the sunlight, but it is such a familiar view that the darker outlines against the horizon were all I needed. I was reminded of the morning after we arrived here, 23 years ago now, when I walked my old dog Tara to the top of the hill and was overwhelmed by the view.
I stopped by the gate and pondered whether I should cross the fields and come back along the farm track, but decided against it as it meant climbing a steep little bit of hill just before the farm buildings. Plus, perhaps I HAD heard a miaow by our copse . . .
So I dropped back down, waving to the house on the hill I was facing, where my son's friend Joe grew up, even though he's now living in Swansea! It was a nod to the past. I climbed over our gate and crossed the field to our copse, hoping that Jarvis might be there. I called and called, and I COULD hear a miaow, although I couldn't see Jarvis anywhere. I looked up every tree, walked up along the stream and tried to see through the brambles on the opposite bank, worried that he might be stuck down a rabbit hole, or worse still, hurt and dragging himself homeward.
I decided to call on my husband to come and help, which meant going down to the yard and seeking him out. As we climbed back up the hill, we saw Miffy (Jarvis & Alfie's mum) sat on the post and rail fence watching us, and Lucky - or Fluff - on the water trough. Back at the copse again, we called and called and yes, there were definite miaows. K said they were coming from the brambles on the slope in Next Door's field and we saw something white amongst the tangle of stalks. It was Alfie! Jarvis's ginger and white brother! He thought we were looking for HIM : )
Anyway, we decided to drag back some dead branches for the fire whilst we were up there and came back down the lane. As we reached our paddock, who did we see by my greenhouse but Jarvis, who ran off at the sight of us. Little wretch! At least I will sleep easy tonight.
Home . . . the big old yellow farmhouse next to the farm.