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Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Although I grew up in the countryside I don't think I'd ever really looked at it. I think we all take our immediate environment for granted - complacency breeds contempt.

As part of learning to being an infanteer you spend quite a lot of time "in the field" - a military expression for living outdoors and being on exercise. You also get to spend a lot of time practicing being on sentry duty or "stagging on" in the vernacular.

I can picture in my mind a cold spring morning, the first rays of the sun beginning to cut through the early morning frost. I am on sentry duty at the edge of the small wood our platoon is occupying. My eyes scanning across the areas I am responsible for. It had been a clear cold night and has stayed clear till morning. The sun creeps slowly above the horizon and gradually a myriad of colours develops in the sky. I have witnessed a sun rise as nature intended.

Suddenly I hear a crack - something has broken a twig in the wood to my right. I had been lying on my front observing the area in front of me and I have to rise slightly to twist and see what has made the noise.

At first I see nothing and then gradually a young fox emerges from undergrowth. It raises its head in the air - sniffing carefully. Perhaps it catches a scent of us I don't know but quickly it lopes easily across the small patch of open ground into another wood block.

12 years later I can see this as it happened and still I am in awe.


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