I’ve laid a trail of mealworms right across the path, under the apple tree where we buried our cat (i think about her little body there, her tiny bones), through the herbs; camomile, calendula, bushes of thyme, plantain, borage, hypericum.
It doesn’t take long till I hear a rustling, clumsy and quiet. Sometimes i wait 5 minutes sometimes 30, but they always come.
The path is hard on my back, and i sit up as they arrive, the rustling and then the crunching of dried protein, then soon, rustling back through the herbs, under the apple tree where our cat is buried, over the path.
They seem to be very cyclical.
and i miss her, my cat. i miss her a lot.
They sip from the dish of water, their tiny mouths lapping fresh water I placed there earlier today, with quiet slurping squeaks. An apple lands heavily on the ground down the hill.
Hedgehogs anoint them selves with shit and poison. This makes their spines even more dangerous to predators. They cannot see well, if I move slowly they don’t notice me. But sometimes if I make a sudden movement they run.
Sometimes they sit still, sometimes they carry on with their business right beneath me. They can hear well, that’s how they know I’m here. Sometimes even the smallest sound sends them running. They are supposed to be pretty good at climbing, swimming too, but i have never seen them taking a dip in the pond.
They don’t eat slugs, not that I have ever seen.
They have their paths, they always follow them, through the enmeshed herby undergrowth. Down the stone path, through the herbs, under the apple tree, often heading to Susan’s garden where they find food is always laid out for them at sunset.
The larger hedgehog prefers meal worms, the smaller one eats a mixture of the worms and dried cat food biscuits. They often make loud snuffing noises, sometimes its more like this bubbling purring, almost like a gentle and persistent frog croak.
The small hedgehog heads off again into the herbs, returning after a minute to lap water. Little paws, claws, curled over the lip of the dish. Then back for more food.
"I’m glad" I think, she is so small and winter is coming. Me and Paul found a small hedgehog last year, she was out in the day, we were worried, but we let her go on her way.
Susan found her dead on the path a few days later, frozen. (i always am questioning when to intervene, and when to step away. Sometimes this questioning is fatal.)
Little upside down spikey bowls with feet.
The little hedgehog has gone again, back into the bushes, i can hear her close by but I’m not sure what she is doing. Returning to the food after one minute. Crunching the dry bites. They must have good teeth for grinding up beetles. Apparently they do prefer beetles to slugs.
The colours have leeched from the sky now, I can see the shapes of grey clouds and the black outlines of plants, occasional glimpses of bright stars. I find I am now sat next to two slugs who have come to join the feast. One is dark grey, the other pale blonde. The darker slug has some lavender stuck to her tail. They have a preference for the cat food, but will happily settle for the worms.
I worry if the smaller hedgehog will survive the winter, and i worry that i’m feeding the slugs.
Anointed spines, Little scurrying legs. The little hedgehog decidedly climbs up over a log and underneath the thyme, they are quite good at climbing and she must smell lovely by now. The whole bush starts to move, undulating like a much larger hedgehog with fragrant spines.
When my cat died, it was late, dark and the stars were out. She was in the garden. I found her stiff body, her lungs had filled with fluid, and curled up by her neck was a hedgehog.