In the first days of April, as the sun rises earlier and the dark of winter recedes, I resume my early-morning walks around the fields close to my house. I am mainly concerned with shaking off my winter sloth, so I dress in light clothes and take my hiking poles: I will be chilled stepping outside and I want to encourage myself to walk briskly.

I take the lane that runs between the hedge and the stone garden walls. It is a track of compressed earth, firm in parts, a bit muddy in others. I pass patches of overturned soil where badgers have been digging for roots and worms, and look out for ...


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