Bilbo in his forestSometimes, when Mum takes herself off for a walk through the back gate and I’m nearby with nothing pressing to do, I go with her. We walk up the forest path that leads to the top of the hill. The earth and pine needles are soft under my paws, and the air is so full of irresistible scents, so intense and multi-layered in places, that I have to stop every so often to disentangle them: the bird scent from the squirrel, the rabbit from the mouse, and so on. Sometimes there’s dog as well, and when that happens I spray my scent on it, just to let them know who this forest belongs to: Bilbo!

Mum gets a bit impatient if I sniff for too long. She calls it ‘dilly-dallying’, but it’s not, of course. She doesn’t appreciate the importance of thorough research, essential if we’re not to have any nasty encounters on the way. Mum thinks she can see everything from her higher vantage point, but she deludes herself a bit there. My excellent nose and ears give me the bigger picture.

Bilbo in his forestWhen we’re at the top, we follow the zig-zag of paths that lead us to our special place: the ancient, gnarled branches of a fallen tree resting on the ground, thickly overgrown with soft, green moss. It’s been there forever. The legendary Tigger used to come here with Mum, and that was in prehistoric times. His scent still lingers here and there, though, strong enough even for Mum to smell. She settles herself down on one of the branches, in a sunny patch if there is one, while I go exploring.

The ground is well-padded with many seasons of fallen leaves in all shades of russet, just like my coat. The top layer, dry and prickly, protects the mysterious realm of dark and damp further down that belongs to fat worms and tiny beetles. They’re constantly at work, munching away, scuttling about. Sometimes I lift the dry leaves with my paw to watch them, and if I uncover a particularly frisky one we have a little batting game, but mostly I just listen to them moving about below me.

Bilbo in his forestWhen I’ve had enough, I settle down on a mossy branch some distance away from Mum and imagine I’m here all by myself, an intrepid explorer out in the wilds, dreaded by rodents near and far. The sun draws speckled patterns on the forest floor that move when the wind catches the branches. Myriads of flying insects dance for me in the golden shafts of light. Squirrels regard me respectfully from high above. I adjust my ears to capture the sounds of the forest around me: the twitter of the birds in the canopy above us, the scampering of squirrels up and down tree trunks, the sudden ‘plop’ of a pine cone and the soft hum of cars in the far distance.

I could happily stay here all day, but the moment comes, all too soon, when Mum says we have to go home, she has things to do. Humans are so restless. I sigh and tear myself away from the peace of the forest and we walk back down the hill, stopping here and there to check up on any scents we may have missed on the way up, but generally going faster because it’s downhill all the way, until we reach our gate. I’m never keen to go back into our garden, as there are plenty more places further along in the direction of the village that might well be worthy of exploration. I sniff about some more while Mum stands by the open gate, tapping her foot. This is one of her more annoying habits, but she’s not really serious until she starts counting to three, so I ignore her.

Eventually, however, I run out of excuses. We go back inside, Mum locks the gate, and that’s when I suddenly realize I’m quite desperate for a snack. Good job we came back before I fainted with hunger.

Till next time,




A Morning Kiss

A morning kiss, a discreet touch of his nose landing somewhere on the middle of my face.
Because his long white whiskers tickled, I began every day laughing.

Janet F Faure