This article is taken from Stand 239, 21(3) October - December 2023.

Nicky Hallett Hares’ Breath
Here’s the thing.

When I ask my old man (in truth, he’s only 30, same as me) what kind of wild euphoric sex he’d like to have under a pear tree, he asks what sort of pear I have in mind. Is it Beurré d’Anjou, perchance, Bon Rouge, or plain old Conference?

This sums up how his brain works, the clunk-clunk-chug of its cogly machinations. I mention this as prelude to what he calls a field trip and I call a country walk. Not in search of pear trees, but to look for mountain hares. As usual this begins with a Great Long List and a Big Fat Book. Which is why it takes forever to plan, and why it’s late February before we start out on what’s known as The Great Expedition. It’s a crispy sort of morning, with whiffs of frost impermed with scents of spring: the tilting cusp of the shifting year, he says, even though it’s frozen stationary.

I heard about the mountain hares from a bloke at work, and my old man gets obsessed with finding some himself. He searches the library’s Natural History section (shelf-marks 508.07 to 508.333, sub-sectioned by region in Dewey Decimal) and he finds there are indeed a group of hares settled on the grit-stone moors, a few miles from the city. Just like I said. ‘March hares’, he calls them, so naturally we go out in February to look. He’s always ahead of himself; or maybe I just lag behind.

Anticipation, in whatever form, I’ve found to be unwise. ...
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