Wednesday 1 April 2009
Alex James: In no rush to beat this addiction
Green shoots, they're everywhere, no word of a lie. We're reeling in the subtle but overwhelming buoyancy of spring out here, to the extent that I find myself thinking things like, who needs money anyway? Why struggle? What's the point? Surely I could happily stand here gawping at everything forever.
Suddenly there is nothing finer than to wander and dawdle in the gentle sun where everything is pretty: a forgotten blessing. Lambs in the fields, lambs everywhere in fact, and calves too.
The cheap, modern electric fences that most farmers use around here don't contain the babies at all. They run underneath the wires, spilling out of the enclosures on to the paths and tracks, bouncing high and scattering madly as I drift past. They are too small to inflict any damage on the rose bushes, and won't stray too far from their mothers anyway, a harmless and chaotic carnival of youth at the end of the garden.
It is a delicate pleasure the long kiss of spring. Initially nothing to compete with the high-octane confected thrills of city life but once felt, the spectacle of nature is quite addictive. Beyond the cultivated areas of the farm it gets even prettier and more compelling. The newborn livestock bear more resemblance to their wild cousins. These are all quicker, leaner, more acutely involved with the surroundings. A fully-grown, fattened sheep is about as practical as a fluffy bunny rabbit. Perhaps that is why they aren't given credit for much intelligence. I suppose they don't really need any. They live the carefree wandering, dawdling, why struggle existence I mentioned, eating and bleating happily all day.
I came running over the crest of the hill beyond the house, out of the brilliant afternoon sunshine into the cool woods. I've never seen so many deer: Hosts of timid, clever wild animals thronging the carpet of green. I realise now that I've settled down, but I am still wild at heart, a deer in the woods, not a sheep in the garden. The countryside is just cocaine for the pipe and slippers brigade.
On my extended jaunts I've seen llamas and peacocks, this week. They are surprisingly common in the Cotswolds – and why not? There is a big herd of ostriches nearby too, although I've never seen or been overtaken by one. I was about to buy a horse, but now I'm thinking maybe I'm more of a camel man. Why stop there? Where, I wonder, does one apply for a licence for a monkey?
The worm that churned
Actually, monkeys are probably best left to live in their natural habitat – the zoo. Anyway, I'm more than amused by my earthworms for the time being: important because behind every great cheese, there are many humble worms at work. That's where it all starts, on the worm level. They don't like lemons, worms. They're leaving the lemons. Fascinating.
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