There’s a big fat hedgehog wandering around on the edges of our lawn this morning. It’s making the most of the early morning sun. And it’s just been joined by a wood pigeon who has been here so many times that it probably believes this to be part of its kingdom.
The hedgehog was the one to bring the smile. It is so big and fat, so alive, and that’s a welcome change to the last time a hedgehog was in our garden. That last time was a prelude to death. That hedgehog was tiny, young, emaciated, and confused. What had started as a fascination turned quickly to desperation as we realised that something was definitely not right with it.
My youngest daughter took the full blow of the encounter, first feeding and then naming the poor creature. She called it Woody and developed a whole backstory for how it ended up in our back garden. Each time we found it out on the exposed grass, we put it back under cover. On the third day Woody was stretched out, stricken and immobile. That’s when we took it to a hedgehog sanctuary that was run by a dear old woman whose head could not help but betray a look of resignation.
“It happens to lots of hedgehogs,” she told us.
Our youngest daughter had not noticed the old lady’s tone and was confident that Woody would recover.
The next day, the lady called to say that the little being had not made it through the night. Our daughter was devastated.
We had become accustomed to grief over the preceding years with one family member, or close friend, checking out one after the other. Death had become an unwanted fact and I wanted to make it into a lesson. And for that I blame Walt Disney and Bambi. Why, oh why did Bambi’s mum have to get shot?
In truth, our daughter wrote a note to Woody wishing him well in his life to come.