The bleak January sun rises up above the trees. The dead leaves beneath the oaks, the kind of which in spring and summer will bear mossy green acorns and deeply serrated leaves, sparkle in the frost. The brittle branches are outlined with silver tracery against the searing blue sky. Despite a hard frost, the winter has been pleasantly mild and that has brought out the hazel catkins. The gorse had also blossomed a week before, but the frost had nipped them in the bud... Please excuse my poor attempt at humour, but it’s very cold this morning and I have been walking for hours. Not that I mind of course. I hug my worsted wool coat tighter around myself to keep out the cold.
Later on, I spotted some pheasants feeding in a freshly ploughed field, after that a flock of starlings crowding around a hawthorn bush. By mid-day, I had walked far from home and I was beginning to feel hungry.
So, in due course, I sat down upon a nearby tree stump, opened up my leather satchel and brought out a boiled ham sandwich and a fresh crunchy apple. As I sat and ate, I noticed the nettles beginning to shoot through and decided to return to this spot soon so as to pick them and make nettle soup.
I began to walk home, when I heard a sudden whimpering coming from the direction of a large gooseberry bush. I thought this rather odd as gooseberry bushes are not well known for whimpering. I suddenly gasped, what if there was a baby under there? My mother had said that she had found me under a gooseberry bush and that was where all babies came from. I had always disbelieved this story up till now, but what if it was true! I crept, ever so slowly, closer to the bush. Then I peered down, and looked underneath.
There, curled up in a pile of leaves was, not a baby thank goodness, but a little black puppy. I picked up its little body and held it to my chest. The poor little thing was shivering with cold and I quickly took of my thick woollen scarf and swaddled the dear creature in it. I ran as fast as could, my feet scarcely touching the ground, until I arrived at my front door. I lit a fire in the hearth and made sure all the doors and windows were tight shut to prevent drafts. My mother would be home soon and she would know what to do. But till then I had to keep the little puppy warm. When my mother did come home she greeted the animal with joy and with only one question. What to call her?
Several years later, little did I know it ,but that little ball of black fluff would become a magnificent hunting hound. And her name, you ask? Well, one look in those serene, crystal clear blue eyes and it was obvious. Sapphire.