Famously, Dylan Thomas once wrote of his dying father
"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
These days, as old age begins to wrap itself around me, I find it harder each day to rage against the claws of cold that come with every winter's month. Every time I pass a mirror the face looking out at me is an old man's version of my younger self. It's not pleasant and winters make the face look older.
Anyway, the nature reserve is suffering winter now as well, it's wet and it's muddy. Tracks that in the summer blew dust across the butterfly wings, now have no fun to sing of. Only Skylarks still sing from leaden skies, small cheer and I thank them for that.
Once, several years ago, as I wandered alongside a huge phragmites reed bed on a cold and windy winter's day, I startled up a Marsh Harrier from it's depth. I stood there for a moment and wondered what it would be like to shelter in that reed bed and resolved to find out for myself. With a glance in either direction to make sure that nobody would be witness to my strange way, I fought my way in. Arriving in the center of this great jungle of reeds I was tightly surrounded in every way and even the brown seed plumes were a couple of feet above my head. It was a totally different world and as I crouched down in there, there was no wind and no cold, I felt totally secure from what the weather and any other living thing could do to me.
This autumn/early winter is turning out to be wetter than the several that have gone before it and yet surprisingly, we still lament at the failure of the ditches and dykes to increase in depth. The grazing meadows are soft and the return of cattle this week are seeing tracks churned into clawing mud but still water levels remain low. The neighbouring arable fields are still soaking up the rain and failing to release it into the reserve's water systems and consequently those birds that like the water still remain scarce.