Saturday, 29 October 2016

An outdoor life beckons

I take Squirrel to King's Cross station and put her on a train to North Yorks. She never was going to be an indoors girl, so I may as well offer her up to the moors.

She's managed to find herself a volunteer weekend on a conservation site, digging holes for butterflies. I ask as we wait for the train, Do butterflies live in holes? She tells me wearily that butterflies rest on the ground. Prickles and thorns and sticky jack stuff tangle up their heavenly glory, so they sometimes need a five-minute sit down - and a hole in the ground is a great place to have a rest.

I know how they feel. I wave her off after our gruelling journey to get here of trespassed train lines and halted hours, and I have to face the same on my lone return home.

This is the first time Squirrel has travelled by herself for such a distance. I tell myself, don't worry, she'll be back in a few days. As I watch her pass through the ticket barriers, I look at the commuters, eyes ahead, in a direct line to Platform 2, marching at double speed like a spine with a single aim: get to the door of Carriage 3 and your best window seat as quick as you can, and ahead of the rival next to you.

Squirrel is oblivious to them. She turns to wave. She turns to wave again in a few paces, or I think she does, because she may have inclined her head to look at the arches and the spans of light criss-crossing above her, then perhaps she caught my eye, so waves again, as if she'd remembered about me all along.

She meanders at the side of that human road, dipping right to left to look at some new distraction. She gives a final wave and a distant smile. Then out of sight. Those butterflies are lucky to have her on their side.

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