My daughter and I went for a shortish walk today. Down the path through the trees, beside the sloping road to Mailly le bourg du bas (the lower village). At the bottom there’s a crystal cave… Or at least quartz glistens there, in seams twisting through the limestone. I’ve walked this path many times before, sometimes after reading at the bench above, or while listening to music, or collecting snails with my brother-in-law, but mostly just as a short-cut down to the river.
Looking at the fallen leaves and rosettes of blue-grey lichen on the floor for a bit, then suddenly a rustle and a jump in front of us… A small squirrel, ruby red, crossed our path, all fluff and curves. Not that shy, it moved calmly following the side of the path. Slow enough for us to see its beautiful elegance and ear tufts.
A darker, almost *black squirrel (still with that gorgeous hint of red) jumped across the path to join the other. This creature was larger and fatter. It leapt back across the path again landing on a bush, it’s movement fairly frenetic. Meanwhile, its smaller, redder companion climbed a tree and began to tap. Red squirrel looked down at us as we passed, seemingly unafraid.
Perhaps this is the first time I’ve walked the path in this way, quietly, just my daughter and I. It’s also the first time that I’ve seen red squirrels here, though I’m sure I’ve seen them once or twice elsewhere on the continent.
Out of the woodland path, we heard above us the noise (almost a cacophony, but not unpleasant) of migrating cranes, forming semi-circles and Vs, but not settling here. Just getting ready to continue their journey to Africa.
*The blacker (red) squirrels are a variant mostly found in the mountains, yet they sometimes appear in the flatter regions too.