A blackbird sings as I walk up the lane in the gathering dusk, offering a last canticle to the closing day. I open the door through the high stone wall into the orchard, and settle myself on my sleeping pad in the corner. Jackdaws fly overhead in twos and threes, chattering volubly in staccato chips and cheeps, urgently going nowhere in particular. When at last they roost together in the nearby trees, the world becomes still and quiet. Bats flit across the sky. Every sound – the last trill of a bird, footsteps along the path, a neighbour calling her cat – stands out with crisp clarity against ...


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