A tiny brown shrew ambles past the open door. I look out in time to see its furry hindquarters disappear into a hole in the cement where it meets the wall of the house. It’s sunny, the light thick and creamy. A breeze sends little eddies through the dead hawthorn leaves. A great tit chitters in the bare branches and a young swallow wobbles on an air current over head. The turfy air, threaded with the musky scent of weed, begins to tremble with the soft burr of a distant JCB, yellow on blue. Autumn is here.


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