I spend nearly an hour on the bus every working day. What I do with that time has evolved through several phases. First I thought I should make the most of my commute by reading work-related publications. Well, that phase didn’t last long. I moved onto non-fiction, then fiction, and on winter evenings I have opted for listening to music: Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto covers the journey one way.
For quite a while now I have been happy to just look out of the window thinking about nothing much, and engaging in a bit of casual drive-by wildlife spotting. Buzzards are a common sight over East Neuk, and so are herring gulls, wood pigeons, rooks and carrion crows. It is also a rare day indeed when I don’t see pheasants feeding and breaking into comedy sprints if anything alarms them. Whilst curlews dotted the fields in the winter, spring brought lapwings to replace them. Sometimes there have been more starlings than you could shake a stick at.
Herons make me smile because they look like slightly hunched old-school spies glancing furtively from behind the upturned collars of their long trench coats. Yesterday I saw ten herons gathered where there are usually only one of two. Spies don’t go to conventions, do they?
Rabbits do not surprise me at all, and roe deer make an appearance every once in a while, but I have seen only one red deer from the bus window, and only one fox.
On the days when I make the journey on my bicycle I have enough time and resolution to focus on the smaller creatures. I can hear them too. Larks that started singing already in February still insist on belting their verses from the skies. Flocks of chattering goldfinches cross the road right in front of me, house sparrows chirp in the hedges, pied wagtails hop on and off the dykes, and yellowhammer after yellowhammer places an order for “little bit of bread and nooooo cheeeeeese!” Now that spring is turning into summer I can also smell the fresh green leaves, the flowering rowan trees and the rapeseed fields, and suddenly pedalling to town before eight in the morning no longer seems like such a bother.
I do sometimes wish I could just be where I need to be in ten minutes. But then I would not have that hour every day when I have a legitimate reason to just be.