The Intruder

photo by Debbie Walker

It’s getting dark earlier now on an evening, and will do even more so in the coming weeks as Autumn moves ever closer to Winter. Many people don’t like the dark evenings and long for the warm light summer months, but I do enjoy the cosiness of Autumn / Winter. In fact, I love all the seasons, for what each brings to us, and I enjoy watching each change of season, so I do feel lucky that I can enjoy each as such.

The dark evenings give that sense of ‘permission’ to get changed into pyjamas or sweater and slacks much earlier than when it’s lighter outside. I feel more able to relax a bit earlier in the evening too, whereas Summer time has me feeling that I have to keep busy for much longer into the evening. Both have their advantages of course, but being a creature who enjoys her comforts, I do have to admit to enjoying the slightly lazy feel that winter allows us to enjoy without guilt.

That leads me into a little story I wanted to share with you. A few nights ago I discovered we had an intruder in our garden and as it’s very dark quite early now, I was very frightened by the experience.

I remained rooted to the spot, terrified

It wasn’t too late at night, but it was dark outside; pitch black in our garden as the lights were all switched off. Our dog began to cry at the door indicating she needed to go out to do her business. I opened the door and felt the cold air rush in, yes winter doesn’t feel far off, I thought to myself. I stood at the door as our Cocker Spaniel walked about the patio sniffing intently. Odd, I thought. She normally goes directly to the grass to do her business and runs straight back inside (similar to me, she also prefers her home comforts!) Noticing her unusual behaviour, I stood a moment longer. I heard a noise. A rustle at the bottom of the garden, and my heart jumped. As I stood listening, trying to convince myself that I’d imagined it, I heard it again, only louder this time, and more of a thud. I imagined the person dropping down from an open vantage point into the safe, darker and more hidden corner of our garden, in order to watch me as he calculated his next move. My blood ran cold. You know that feeling where you feel both a cold terror which freezes you to the spot, and a surge of adrenalin both at the same time? Well that was me. I was rooted to the spot. My husband was in our house, but in another room and that felt like it could have been ten mile away at this point. My mind was telling me to come inside, to run away, to leave whoever was out there to their business. Then it was telling me not to move, because I rationalised that if a person were to be watching me from the bushes at the bottom of the garden then they could already see me, so if I moved suddenly then I may worry them and could trigger them into running to me and putting me in danger. As all this played through my mind, I remained rooted to my spot.

I was aware of our dog still sniffing like crazy on the patio. Odd that she wasn’t barking, but having lost her sight during this last year we’ve also noticed that her behaviours have changed, and even more so recently. So in that sense, it wasn’t so odd that she was more interested in the scent. My mind was now whispering that the intruder had been upto our back door and it was his scent that she was sniffing. I didn’t know what to do for the best. It felt like I’d been stood there for hours, yet it had only been moments in reality.

My heart thumped as I watched the intruder run towards cover

All of a sudden the kitchen light went on behind me; I turned and saw my husband and seeing him gave me the edge that I needed. I shouted for him to quickly turn the outdoor lights on, and thankfully he did so immediately giving me chance to see clearly what was down the bottom of our garden. In the fraction of a second that it took for me to turn my head away from the direction of my husband indoors, to the place in the garden where I’d heard the noise, I saw the intruder run across our lawn. I jumped. My heart thumped. My husband ran outside as I’d let out an involuntary yelp of fear and shock. Together we watched as the intruder continued to run towards the cover of the bushes on the other side of the garden.

I couldn’t believe it. He wasn’t an intruder at all; he was in fact a visitor. A most wonderful, cute and welcome visitor just looking to make a new home for winter. My husband and I watched as the little hedgehog completed his sprint across the bottom of the lawn and crawled under the bushes and away from the now floodlit garden (still making more noise than I’d realised such a small creature could make) as he found his place in a nice safe spot away from any further crazy conduct from his new neighbours, all ready to settle down for a long winter nap !

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