I am saying goodbye to my dear Kite, my trusted companion in these hills. This is a journal entry from Nicola Chester.
During the late afternoon on the hills, the gentle light seeps through the gaps in the clouds, creating a peaceful atmosphere in between winter storms in Wiltshire. Flying just above the ground, a short-eared owl glides past me, its feathers shining in shades of silver and gold. I watch as its long, narrow wings are streaked with cream and brown. Suddenly, it turns on one wing and gracefully lands nearby. However, it misses its target and stares at me with wide, dark eyes. The circular shape of its face is framed by two white crescents, resembling a pair of moons. Its eyes seem to challenge me with their bold, black eyeliner. The owl raises and lowers its tufted “ears” before resuming its hunt. As I sit on a damp anthill, I reach out my hand to my side, hoping to feel soft fur. But something is missing.
Our dear dog Kite, who was the kindest, most joyful, and most obedient companion, has passed away. We made the difficult decision to put her to sleep just before her 12th birthday, as it was the last act of kindness we could do for her. Kite was chosen by my father from a litter of 22 unexpected puppies that came from a happy “farm accident” between a shepherd’s collie and a gamekeeper’s labradors.
She was present for nearly all of our activities and displayed a strong work ethic and discipline. Even if a hare suddenly ran by her, she would remain focused and not get distracted.
I long for her greatly, my most enduring companion: her lively, brown eyes, her speckled paws, the cross-shaped markings on her chest, and the scent of her paws. These characteristics have sparked inspiration in the writing workshops I have facilitated (what is the scent reminiscent of? Grass and running, flying kites on the cliffs, fragrant thyme, and cozy winter fires). She learned to halt, lay down, and wait when I lifted my binoculars. We have observed numerous owls in this manner.
The short-eared owl flies towards the light and disappears as the cloud cover closes. A new winter storm is approaching and a group of linnets descends into the safety of the gorse. As I reach the lane, I hear the sound of claws clicking behind me. I quickly turn around to see dry hornbeam leaves resembling rolled cigarillos, chasing after me.