The barber-striped blades of the level crossing fell and, one breath later, civilisation fired past like a bullet from a gun. I waited, Rum tensed at my side, and then continued on, releasing the extension lock on his lead, the swish of his ribboned tail communicating his pleasure at this small freedom. At the crest of the road, I stepped, and Rum bounced, over the sagged section of fence wire and into the field. The land lay fallow, my Hunters squelching in the waterlogged grooves of the soil, dull and lifeless in the shadow of the fir forest. On rare summer days, when heat distorted the air into ruffled fabric, the line of firs shifted and undulated, an emerald curtain revealing another world – which, for me, it did. Every morning, I came to learn more about its indigenous race of insects – gods of nothing, my husband called them – while Rum conquered the undergrowth with a raised hind leg, each of us in our element. My latest academic paper was on the Andrena fulva – the tawny mining bee – due for publication in the forthcoming volume of Entomologist’s Gazette. I never used to believe that I had the intellectual capacity for science, but time taught me that brains came second to commitment and, after six years married to Paul, I was more committed to my work than ever.
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