On a ruined stone wall, where brambles and branches lazily dropped on the country lane, I could just about make out its shape. But its bright eyes watched my every move. A rabbit nibbling on greens and enjoying its youthful freedom this afternoon hour.
And in a second another followed. They hopped a bit and used their paws as they nibbled and twitched a bit.
I stood as still as I could, taking in this rare moment where, less than two metres away, they cared not for human threats.
One disappeared into the brambles and reappeared moments later, checking me out, happy I was no predator. It was a beautiful May day, one where the sun wasn’t too bright, the clouds not too dark, the sea not unsettled by breeze nor boats.
Where the marshes meet the rivers and estuaries, swans smoothly glide with their mottled cygnets, curlews nod and flitter over the small stones and shells on shores, and jackdaws and crows caw in a common parliament of their feathered friends
There is a whole world alive in these Wexford hedgerows, where tilled fields and burgeoning crops begin their reach to the clouds.
In hawthorn trees and on spiny branches, occasional robins warble and whistle their territorial tunes to warn off the unwary of young and nests and a new generation of birds not yet on the wing.
In nearby fields, February lambs frolic with adolescent abandonment beside woolly ewes that await a shearer’s date.
Over a marsh, a pair of grey herons loop leggedly into an uneasy flight before settling to earth again on a shore where oyster-catchers make space.
The slobs are uncrowded now, the geese gone in formation to the north and west, out over the Atlantic, towards the west coast of Scotland, on to the Faroes, to Iceland and beyond, to Greenland and the High Arctic tundra. They are seasonal winterers here and won’t be seen until the darkening days of October turn towards November.
This spring, the hedgerows have filled with buds turn to great greenness and flowery hues — the violet hue, the bluebells, the wild leek that bow and bend in gentle breezes.
Where the marshes meet the rivers and estuaries, swans smoothly glide with their mottled cygnets, curlews nod and flitter over the small stones and shells on shores, and jackdaws and crows caw in a common parliament of their feathered friends.
Bounty will come
Magpies in ones and twos dip across small country lines or wait for tractors to spill seeds or straw. It is too early yet for the brambles to produce fruit — that bounty will come in the fullness of time and sunshine.
In the polytunnels and under the glass, strawberries are ready to be picked and packed. The new potatoes lying under rolls of plastic sheeting covering furrows won’t be too far behind.
Then will come the summer barley, the harvesting and bailing in preparation for the winter to come. Silage will be cut and stored too while the cattle fatten on grass where bees and butterflies flutter.
The occasional flash of a pheasant appears in the fields too. For now, they are safe, not so when the days lessen and the nights lengthen and grow colder. There will be pots and pies to be filled, ovens to feed. So too for the rabbits, the cattle and the lambs.
This is the cycle of life. Spring arrives with joy and turns playful with the summer. The optimism of August turns to harvest in September. November and December, January and February are cold with the dearth and death of the depth of winter.
Spring marches on again. The hedgerows spring to life, the bramble ramble and the rabbits appear and witness a world of wonder from their small wide eyes.
We are all just walking our country lanes now, playing our bit part in the cycle of life.