The hound's prayer


Please come, Lady Spring. Bring sun, soft rain, and mud gentle under paw and foot. Swell the streams and wake the Wild Ones from their sleep. Oh, please hurry and come.

Beechwood 2

I am dreamimg of grass river banks and bird song. Of bluebells, stitchwort, pink campion. Of tender young bunnies that I...umm, will not chase...

Beechwood 3

...and lambs that I, uh, won't go near.

Beechwood 4

I am dreaming of warmth. Doors standing open. Roaming from house to garden whenever I like. Lounging near our front gate and bar- ....umm, not barking at all who pass by.

Beechwood 5

Please come, Lady Spring, and bring Summertime with you. She came to us very late last year -- perhaps she's forgottten the way to our hill. So please bring her along, with her sweet peas and foxgloves, her salt sea winds and her cool woodland shade. But if Summer can't come yet, please come by yourself, and I'll keep you good company here.

Beechwood 6

Winter was fun, but he's outstayed his welcome, sitting soused by the fire and refusing to budge. Our wood stocks are low, our spirits need thawing, my thick winter coat has now started to shed. Please come roust him out, send him back to the northlands. Please come just as quick as you can.

Beechwood 7

I'll show you my hillside, my best spots, my secrets. You can sleep in my dog bed and share all my treats. Your favorite flowers are almost in bloom now, and the Bird Choir is practicing. My People have set you a place at the table. We're ready. I'm ready.

Please come.

Beechwood 8

Tilly's prayer first appeared in a post back in March 2013, re-published today with new photographs from a nearby beechwood.

The Dog's Tale

Woodland 1

Woodland 2

The Dogs Tales are a series of posts in which Tilly has her say....

When I take my Person out walking in the woods it is my job to scout the path ahead, to lead us through the dark of the forest and bring us safely home again. With my good, furry ears and my keen, clever nose, I pick up on all the news of the forest: of foxes and badgers who have passed this way...squirrels rattling high above us in the trees...fine spiders' silk spun from leaf to leaf...coarse sheeps' wool caught in the bramble thorns...and the distinctive scent of the hillside's fairies: sweet, pungent, mushroomy and sour, all at once.

Woodland 3

But what kind of fairies? Friends or foes? I sniff more closely, but I can't quite tell.  Shy moss fairies, kindly root fairies, giggly fungi fairies: all these I do not mind. But the winged ones, buzzing through the air like overgrown bees, are tricksy, and they bite.

Woodland 4

I follow their spoor through oak and ash, all the way to the forest boundary wall. The stink of fairies is overwhelming, and yet my Person walks on without concern. She's a gentle, absent-minded creature, unaware of danger. I must guard her closely.

Woodland 5

Now fairies, as you know, love boundaries and borders; they love places that lie betwixt and between; and so the wall is riddled with fairy burrows and the evidence of fairy hands and fairy feet. I climb the wall, push my sensitive snout into the ivy, and find moss fairies curled in beds of lichen, green and plump and fast asleep. A root fairy, brown and wrinkled as a walnut, peers up with eyes the pale green of new leaves.

Woodland 6

Woodland 7

But this is not the danger I've been scenting. My hackles rise and I don't know why. My Person is drifting up the path behind me when I hear the buzz of fairy wings....

Woodland 8

Woodland 9

Suddenly a fairy swarm surrounds me, visible only as sparks of light, and I bark in warning: Stay back! Stay back! These are not the slow, soft creature of root and soil but the quick, sharp spirits of the forest canopy:  shifty, capricious, and volatile. They bear no love for the Canine Tribe, and their fondness for mortals cannot be trusted.

Woodland 10

My tail is pulled, my ears are tweaked, and sharp little fairy teeth nip my flanks. I growl and snap. I crunch. I swallow. I've eaten a fairy! I've eaten a fairy!

Woodland 11

Uh oh. I've eaten a fairy. And my Person will not be pleased.

Woodland 12

The swarm, taking fright, vanishes into the forest. The moss fairies snore. The root fairy smiles. My Person is safe now. She whistles and we walk on.

Woodland 13

She never needs to know.

Woodland 14

The Dog's Tale: A Time for Reflection

The front garden bench, September.The Dogs Tales are a series of posts in which Tilly has her say....

It's the end September, the trees are turning to gold and the hillside bracken to rust. The days are warm but the nights are cold, and dusk carries the scent of woodsmoke. At summer's end, I feel a Dog must pause to reflect on the season just past.

Looking over the village from the top of our hill.

It's been a good summer: plenty of sunshine, long walks, loafing in the garden, snoozing in the grass, and journeys to wild places with my Pack. I have waded through streams and paddled in rivers.

Cooling off in a woodland stream.

Cooling off in the river.

I have leapt through the waves and wallowed in the mud.

On the north Devon coast, reflecting once again. I am a Dog who takes life seriously.

But not too seriously. And sometimes I prefer to be a Seal.

The ecstasy of mud.

Family and friends came all the way from London and New York just to see me. (I encouraged them to visit with my People too.)

Beautiful me with my Pack-Sister Victoria and my friends Rachel & Owen, and Ellen & Delia.

I got to stay with my Beloved-est Friend when the rest of my Pack went up to the Big City. This is his portrait of me:

Tilly by David Wyatt

I went to Chagford Carnival, listened to my favorite band (The Nosey Crows), and graciously allowed small People to pet me. Then a Mouse passed by who smelled just like my Person.

The Chagford librarian and a giant Mouse.

It was very strange.

And who is that White Rabbit? She looks familiar...

Yes, it was an excellent summer. That is, in all respects but one:

The Cat population next door has grown. There must be seven or eight of them now. I patrol my territory from dawn to dusk, and keep watch indoors through the back bedroom window, but those fiendish Felines still get into the garden, strutting across the grass and taunting me.

I chase, I chase, dear god, I chase ... but the devilish creatures are too quick! Up they go, over the fence, across the rooftops ... leaving me (so close! so close!) veritably whimpering with my frustration. It's a serious job, protecting my People from Cats, and a good Dog's work is never done.

Spying on Cats.

Where did they go...?

Now it is autumn. We've harvested the plums and apples, the peas and cucumbers, the lavender and the lemon balm.  The flowers are fading, the grape vine is drooping, and the little pond is thick with weeds and shadows. There are Frogs in the pond, Birds in the trees ... and far too many Squirrels for my liking. They throw nuts at the studio roof to crack them open, and it drives me wild.

The plum tree by the studio.

The Buddha by the studio pond.

A studio Frog

Friendly Frog

Blackberry season is almost over, though there are still plenty left if you know where to find them. I love blackberries. I love eating them all along the paths winding over our hill, risking the prick of  brambles to lip that dark, sweet juiciness down.

This year I've discovered a new technique. I stop beside a good cluster of berries, look up at my Person, and then back at the berries. Then I do it again, sometimes two or three times, until my intent is clear. She plucks the berries out of the brambles and I eat them from the soft palm of her hand. She is a very good Person, gentle and easily trained. I chose her well.

There are blackberries all along the path

My Person demonstrates her training.

'Good girl,' I tell her, and then I snarfle those berries down.

Yes, it's been a fine Dartmoor summer. I hope it will be a fine autumn too, both here on Dartmoor and wherever else in the world that you may be. I wish you many walks, sweet berries, and good companions on every path you roam. Blessings to you and all your Pack.

Love, Tilly

Always treat your Pack with kindness and love.

Happy autumn!Image credits: The sketch of me above is by my Beloved, David Wyatt; the photo of Owen & Rachel jumping on Chagford Common was taken by Owen & Rachel themselves (how did they do that?); the photo of me &  Delia Sherman by the fairy spring on Chagford Common is by Ellen Kushner;  the Chagford Carnival photos are by Lin Copeland, from the "Friends of Chagford Library" site.  All  other photos are by my Person. Mostly starring me.

This post is dedicated to young Cinnamon, her Person (Karen Meisner) and her brand new Pack. Be sure to train your People well, grasshopper. It's never too early to start.