There is definitely 'something of the night' about me - not in a vampiric reference such as that famously made about Michael Howard by Ann Widdecombe a few years ago. As twilight starts to assert its authority over the daylight I do get a certain boost - sound and vision is heightened, smells and touch are turned up a notch. It isn't unlike the turning down of the house lights in a theatre or cinema, a prelude to something special.
This afternoon saw me walk up onto Epsom Downs, timing my journey so that, as I strolled down Chalk Lane - which for about a mile travels through horse paddocks and copses - I would reach the bottom of the hill in darkness. The paddocks are large and stretch back a fair way. I used to hear Little Owls here with some regularity, but they have gone from this side of the downs, to be replaced by those raucous buggers, Ring-necked Parakeets. Hardly seems a fair swap to me. This evening all that could be heard was a singing Song Thrush and a calling Robin, but these sounds came to me with a crystal clarity that is just missing during daylight hours. A few Carrion Crows were sitting, silhouetted, on the roof of a large barn, their outline's razor-sharp. The smell of leaf-mould, earth and the fruity mucking-out from the stables added fragrance to the cooling, but still mild, November air. Talk about being in the moment. When visibility is reduced, the senses come alive.
This time of day also acts as a reset button, what with the light having passed, and what has 'gone before' has done just that - gone. But I do not tend to look back, rather find myself being readied for tomorrow. The sense of anticipation comes to the fore, as if what had been dished up today was merely a prelude to what might be served tomorrow.
And another thing. I took this walk without my binoculars. Or camera. I found the whole thing restful, without expectation. No clutter. Just me and a jacket. No pressure. Of course, had a swift flown over in the gloom, or a wheatear jump out in front of me as I crossed the downs I would have been kicking myself for such foolhardy action.
Or would I have?