It is silver but it didn’t glint in the morning sun. Noticeable because it’s an unusual shape – it had no business sitting on the front path.
On her way back from dumping rubbish in the wheely bin, my sister bent and retrieved the tarnished, grubby pendant from the concrete and held it up for inspection. How the hell did it get there? It certainly wasn’t there yesterday. And where did it come from?
The pendant was known to us – we’d had it made decades ago – and we’d both worn it in the past but neither of us has seen it for years. Curious. I have no answer or theory to offer here, we’ve tried all the logical reasons for it turning up but nothing really makes sense so we’ll have to leave that labelled as a mystery.
My sister and I are both atheists. We are also both sailors and as such, like many water-borne creatures, we observe the odd superstition. We crush up our empty egg shells to stop witches using them to sail to sea and raise storms. We both knock on wood to avoid tempting fate. And we both know the Magpie rhyme. As we puzzled over this once significant but long forgotten piece of jewellery, two Magpies flew over us.
That was yesterday. Today it’s filed away and we’ve moved on.
But, I haven’t forgotten and this morning whilst waiting for an important phone call I busied myself with the washing up. A hill rises in front of the house and the kitchen window looks over the side of the hill. As I approached the sink I saw a movement outside. One of our very large cats? No, a fox. He was trotting down the side of the hill and just as I spotted him, he stopped and looked my way. The strong breeze that stirred the spring grass rippled through his fur and along his brush. I don’t think he saw me. More likely that a scent on the breeze gave him pause for thought. He raised his head for a moment then trotted on and passed from my sight. Later, three deer turned up in the field by the river.
Are these all omens? Good omens? I couldn’t possibly say but they make me hopeful. Spring is coming, our wildlife is getting ready for the breeding season and new life is shooting out of the ground with the daffodils, crocuses and daisies so maybe our household can tap into that upwelling of life force and break new ground too.
Before I get thrown out of Professor Brian Cox’s fan club for being too soppy, I should say that, whether others put such things at the door of a deity, a belief system or plain human psychology, I leave to them. I only know that when I stand in the back garden looking up at the clear sky, I don’t feel the need for a God. To my left is Orion, Taurus, the Pleiades. To my right, Cassiopeia and The Plough with Polaris between them. I am not afraid of the cavernous vaults of space. When I die, whatever happens to my soul, I will always exist. Elements of my physical body came from the heart of a dying star. Perhaps bits of me will find their way to a new star.
While I am alive, when I see magpies or deer. When I hear buzzards keening above me, woodpeckers battering trees or owls haunting the dark, I’ll raise my head and sniff the breeze like that fox. And before I trot on down life’s hill, I’ll pause and think ‘isn’t the universe amazing?’
I’ll never work out how that bloody necklace turned up in the front garden though.