Mr & Mrs Red squirrel have taken up residence between the inner walls of my bedroom dormer window. I don’t mind this at all, because red squirrels don’t nick your food and then say thank you by shitting in it. They are not junk-food scroungers: they go outside to find the food, and bring it back home in the proverbial bacon sense.
In doing so, the Squirrels at No 94 are displaying great good sense, for they are literally just a jump and a scramble away from the main walnut tree here – and will thus have a ready supply of food. They’re welcome to it to be honest, as I still have 8 million walnuts left over from last year’s crop, sitting in suspended animation down in the old fridge-freezer.
Also back are Archie and Annabelle Pigeon, regular nesters in Sloggers’ Roost for five years or more. As indeed are the Sparrow-Hawks at No 2 the Ash Tree, although Mrs S-H is still something of a harridan when it comes to her hubby, whom she thinks something of an idler.
The Woodpeckers Mr & Mrs Green have joined the avian invasion, and can be heard every day hammering away like a Japanese machine-gun nest.
Last but not least, the Hoopos of no fixed abode – unreconstructed 1970s punks every one of them – are swooping about in their showey way. They appear far too exotic to be credible European birds, but they come back each Spring to prove me wrong.
While this might sound as if I’m going a bit doolally Wind in the Willows in my dotage, the dark side is ever-present. I was a little stunned to find a viper staring at me in the sitting room yesterday. Until relatively recently, these nasty buggers were rarely found outside Spain and Italy, but with what they at least see as a warming climate, your south European viper is heading north. They’re smaller than the indigenous (and harmless) grass snakes here, but very easy to identify because the minute you come within two metres of them, the hissing starts and the fangs are bared ready for action. They display a level of aggression sufficient to put Hannibal Lector to shame.
In order to deal with this chap, you need a shield (spade) and a sword (branch lopper). Using these, one can block the venomous strike and then grab the serpent respectively. But the speed with which they move is unsettling. The fact that fear of venomous snakes isn’t a phobia is reinforced by the dribbling unpleasantness of poison on the spade once the duellist is dead. I’m getting a bit long in the tooth for this sort of gladiatorial stuff.
The key point is this. Rodents, birds, snakes, wild boar, worms, bees, hornets and other insects are – unlike Homo sapiens – focused. Not for them the bear-pit yelling of Bourse trading, negative yield Spanish debt bonds, rental domicile derivatives, central government, electoral politics, game theory or indeed any of the myriad lunacies that render us one of the most ridiculous species on the planet.
The human race is increasingly embracing the unnatural – be that via forced equality and political correctness on the political Left, or the approval of dysfunctional greed on the socio-economic Right.
The natural human condition is one of caring competition within communities, and mutual cooperation with neighbouring packs. This left-brain intelligence is the secret of our success. But it is the right-brain fear and paranoia that may yet become the denouement of our extinction.