As we prepare for the tail-end of hurricane Gonzalo, the first strong winds to be predicted this Autumn, the sun is shining but, despite some gutsy gusts, we’re not too concerned as yet. On the beach this morning we ran towards Newman’s pool in the murk, the sun having another half an hour to lie-in before he needed to be up. Sand scudded across from Monk’s House, where the dunes decline and there’s no shelter to be had, but despite a recent haircut I feel warm and wonderful – no need to place my head upon the hearth as yet as it is unseasonably mild. Out on the islands, National Trust warden David Steel is battening down the hatches, and the growing seal pup population is leaning hard against the rising tide, even as I write.
But though we are led to fear and to prepare, and the news is full of dread, betrayal and pestilence, tiny chinks of glorious light are always visible: the goodness in a human hug, leftover casserole gravy – all rich, delicious vegetables and meaty mouthfuls – on our dinner, a bright blue sky above me as I race to catch the fig leaves as the wind blows them into the pond; the thought that someone smaller than me may soon be joining us; knowing the sand will be rubbed away from my eyes, that they will think of it before it troubles me.
Within his convoluted labyrinth, within his considerable demesne – which stretches by way of lengthy tubing between two large ‘cages’, over six levels where he can rest, feed or doze as the whim takes him – tiny Jo sleeps: downstairs today, in his enormous bed, directed by the same logic which day by day leads him to sort his food stores by size and quality within a tunnel, or move them round to suit the mood. Corn kernels, stripped from tiny dried cobs, shelled peanuts, sunflower seeds. Tiny and perfect life form, blessed creature, be happy and content, cleaned and tended daily, you the smallest and, as some might say, the least of us. All is safely gathered in. A happy harvest festival of his own.