The Badger – by Pat Wilson

(c) Pat Wilson, 2012

Badger poked his nose out the Sett and sniffed the air.
The evening was dark. There was no moon.
He smelt something odd, he should return to his lair.
Go on Badger you’ll be back home soon
Mrs Badger said with an encouraging smile.
Maybe I should wait and stay with you awhile.

Remembering the taste of potatoes from Steel Hall byre
Badger left the Sett by his well-used route
There must be a house nearby with a chimney fire
mused Badger ‘cos he smelled the soot.
There was that smell again. What could it be?
Was it a dead animal near the old oak tree?

Past the arches he went and the smell was stronger
Something was marking its territory, the urine mark Badger could see.
Maybe he should make a detour to a route that was longer.
But he needed to get food for Mrs Badger and their cubs numbering three.
Badger continued on his way as he listened to the night
A fox barked a warning and a rabbit squealed in fright.

Badger recalled stories as he hurried through the scrub.
His Grandfather had told tales of men smelting lead
many years ago when old Badger had been but a cub;
These men caused a strange smell his Grandfather had said.
Badger recalled the woodmen that cut branches from the trees
and the smell they made, he remembered, was carried on the breeze.

The smell was very close now, there was danger Badger knew
Badger was nervous. Where could he hide?
He was a long way from home, what should he do?
Was that movement in the trees on his left side?
Suddenly ahead in the path a large shape was there.
Was it a deer? No it was large, the size of a bear.

Out of the gloom Badger saw a big black cat.
They stared at each other, both Badger and him.
The cat had been hunting on the scent of a rat;
but the rat sensing danger climbed a tree limb.
Bats stopped their flying and landed to view
a fight to the death was imminent they knew.

Both animals were hungry and looking for food
As Badger turned to run the big cat sprang.
Unfortunately for Badger his speed was not good.
That night a song of victory the black cat sang.
Mrs Badger heard the song and knew the news was bad
alone in the Sett she and her cubs were hungry and sad.
Pat Wilson.

The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467