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Stepping out of the front door into a completely different world

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You know what I like? When you’re toasty and cosy indoors, and you hear the wind getting up outside, and it piques your curiosity, so you step out the door… and into an entirely different world.

It’s an elemental place, the world. Wild, untamed. A few seconds ago, you were sitting indoors, with the radiators on and the fake coals in the electric stove glinting merrily. Next thing, wind and rain assail your face, and there’s a roaring in the tree-tops and, if there’s any light from the Moon, you might see white horses tossing their manes on the sea.

Sometimes, it’s so cold you step right back indoors again. You shiver. You’re not dressed for it. You wonder what it would be like to live in the wild, in the woods, in the cold. How ever would you manage? What must it have been like for our ancestors in the dim and distant past, in the era before slippers?

Every morning, they’d wake up and think: ‘I wonder if I’ll find anything to eat today.’ No Honey Nut Loops, with added vitamin B12, for them. They didn’t go out to find their tea with a shopping bag but with a bow and arrow or a spear. If they’d gone vegan, they’d hope to stumble on some kind of plant with berries or edible leaves or roots.

It’s all animals and birds do all day: look for something to eat, constantly. True, if sated by helpful human feeders, the birds devote themselves to singing for a while, just as we devote ourselves – once fed – to art, philosophy and fitba’. But back in the day, we were like the animals and birds, ever searching for sustenance.

I wonder how the animals and birds manage when it’s very cold. They must be hunkered down somewhere. And they’ve got the fur and feathers. But, still, it must be grim. Much though I love the outdoors, I would not like to be outside all the time.

When a brutal night is followed by a day of winter sunshine, the birds soak up the rays joyfully. If they didn’t have such wee tiny brains they’d think: ‘Well, thank Pan, that night is over with.’ A few hours later, they’re going through it all again.

I’ve put up a new feeder near the window where I work, and the little platform on it lets the blackbirds and thrush land for some nosh too. Previously, they couldn’t land on the other feeders. This has been a boon for them.

Birds: they’re always dining out. They look in the window at me. Even when I go right up to the glass, they don’t flee. They understand the concept of glass, though some wee dafties fly into it from time to time. Fair gies them a dunt on the beak!

If they could think, I’m sure they’d be envious of my indoors life, though sometimes I fancy they must pity me: ‘Poor Rab. Stuck inside so much, working for The Courier an’ that.’

Inside and outside: it’s the best of both worlds. I’d hate to be stuck inside all the time, and I wouldn’t fancy being outside forever. On a bad day, best just to pop your heid oot from time to time, then retreat indoors where all is cosy and toasty.

More in this series:

Erecting a fence terrifies Rab more than ghosts…

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