I have a new bicycle. It’s a decent little bike, the good side of average, shall we say. And it isn’t little in fact. Your blogging hedgehog is 6’2” and well-built. One of the things I impressed on the chap who put it together was that it needed to be big, and very strong. When I cycle I like the bike to know it’s being ridden (insert random Freudian analysis here). The handlebars aren’t for resting my palms on, they are for pulling the thing up the slopes it doesn’t like the look off. The transmission is supposed to turn the considerable force with which I push the pedals into forward motion, lots of it, rather than dissipate it pointlessly. I hate the business of whirring away and hardly moving, like a hamster on a wheel. I go everywhere in top gear (muevo mucho desarrollo, as we say over here), unless the hill is so steep that it stops me dead. I made all this clear to the bike chap, he absorbed it all and produced a bike able to take all this ill-treatment and come out looking relaxed and robust, as though it were me who’d done all the work. If you see what I mean.
So I’ve been ‘testing it out’, of course. Today’s ‘test’ took me past a farm by an old bridge with a mediaeval mill on it. There are a lot of old mills around here (not windmills- Don Quijote’s famous tilting wasn’t far from here, but where there’s water you don’t build windmills (they’re unreliable, need much more maintenance, and make bad homes and workshops)), but this one was working until quite recently, and is bigger than most.
All the way out the wind was singing in my ears. Literally singing. If I turned the head at the right angle it would play my ear as though it were a flute, or a Mongolian throat singer. I kept catching snatches of conversation just beyond my ability to interpret, as though the land were trying to tell me ancient secrets.
Anyhow, to the Landseer reference in the title. I had heard that this farm had deer in a park within it, but we hadn’t seen them when we went looking last year. There are areas not far from here with a lot of deer but nearer the town you rarely see any, so I was delighted to see a group of about a dozen grazing and generally wandering about within fifty yards of the road.
There was an adult male, he of the photo, quite an impressive specimen. He was sort of fighting with another, smaller, male, but I think it was a play-fight and the other was too young to be a challenge. This other male didn’t have antlers, but short spikes like an antelope. In a full-grown fighting male you occasionally get this and it’s very dangerous because it can easily kill anything that gets in its way, but in this case it was just that it was its first growth year.
The pattern of light and shade among the trees, and the fact that I couldn’t get closer without scaring them off, made it difficult to get good pictures (at any rate, that’s my excuse), but I offer you the best I could do.