The hour was golden. The deer, dappled bambi types, stood unperturbed by the water. The swifts, closer than ever before, banqueting in the sky surrounding us. Not a single other human around.
Because, it turned out, the park had shut thirty minutes earlier.
We would learn this in ten minutes’ time, as we ambled between two lines of trees in the general direction of home. The park ranger was kind as he pulled up, said he’d meet us at the gate to set us – accidental rebels and interlopers – free.
But that was still minutes away.
For now, we would watch the swifts, hundreds of them, a summer’s full in one evening. Wheeling past our heads in their pursuit of the feast. Catch sight of a heron; shaggy, hunched and seeking solitude in the reeds. Two ducks, upended as they sought the bottom of the pond. Self-important pied wagtails strutting along the grass.
The light was shifting; straw shot through with blue now as the sun shifted west. On the other side of the pond, fawns appear. Skipping towards rest of the herd, until the wind told them to scatter from our presence. Leaping for home; wild and safe.
As we turned back, we would name it: this moment was special. We didn’t know how much so until news of our trespass reached us. Not natural rule-breakers, we won’t repeat it. But as I sit at my desk on a weekday morning, I must confess, this memory is treasured. I am grateful it happened.