It was a terrible year to be at Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice Festival, but there were still over 40,000 people partying all over the mound, climbing, screaming, singing, dancing, and chanting. It was raining that English summer country rain, the kind that goes on non-stop for days and comes at you in a fine mist from every direction and soaksnot just through everything you are wearing but all the way through you as well and chills you to the marrow. It was 4am. There were (at least) three longer, hard, hours until sunrise and any hope of getting warm or dry again. We were sitting on dirty black plastic bin liners, huddled up together, shivering, backs up against the stones, under a leaky, makeshift shelter made of an old umbrella and some scrap sheets of plastic we managed to find somewhere. It wasn’t helping much. We had just managed to get here an hour ago. I had been on a plane all night the night before. I was exhausted before we even got here. This year, or me, so far, it wasn’t exactly boatloads of fun. I wasn’t sure about Simon
“Shhhhhhh…” Simon said it so softly I almost couldn’t hear him at first, over all the chaos.
“Be very still… and quiet”
He pointed down at the ground, near to his right leg, at a quiet little spot (just about the only one, anywhere) where there happened to be no plastic covering the earth. There was a hole in the ground no more than an inch or two in diameter, right up against the base of the massive stone. Poking its head out the top was a tiny grey creature with pointy nose and bright grey eyes, come to join us in our plastic womb (or tomb) just barely big enough for the two (no, make that the three!) of us
“What is it?”
“I don’t even know what that is.”
“It’s kind of like a shrew. Just think of it as a sort off a fat, fancy, mouse”
“ Great. Now I’m picturing it in a top hat, dickey with a bow tie and a monocle”
It didn’t seem frightened at all. Only curious as to what was all the commotion and who we were and just exactly what the heck was going on around here at this hour. I think if we had wanted to, we could have reached out with one finger and stroked it on the head.
“It’s only mid –June, it can’t be more than a month or two old. So it’s never seen a single person in its entire life. Look, it doesn’t know enough to even be afraid of us. It’s never even seen one normal human being, and now there are 40.000 lunatics taken over its entire world.”
“I think I know how it feels; I’ve had a few days like that”
“Can you just imagine? You’re just going along, doing your own little vole thing, every single day, minding your business and this place is completely deserted.”
“And one day, you just wake up, and stick your nose out, and see …this?”
We now we are laughing out loud now, we are all warm and lit up from the inside, with all that special bliss that envelopes you once you understand the universes gave you the privilege of sharing with you firsthand, one of their millions of wonderful, crazy, miniscule, everyday miracles happening all around you all the time that you almost never fortunate enough to notice, much less enjoy, or appreciate.
Once in a great while, you just get to “ to have a larrff” with the Mighty Forces of our Grand Universe , and join in on one of the Great Cosmic Jokes, even if it’s just for a moment or two, even if it’s just one with big grey eyes and pointy snoot, that’s only two inches long.
Our little friend spent all night with us. Every now and then he would scuttle out and take a few steps and a bit of a sniff, safe under our shelter, making the occasional trip back down below to do whatever it is that a busy baby vole must do to meet his vole responsibilities, and to fill his busy little vole day . I don’t know how long the average vole lives (but I hope it’s a long, long time.) I think of him sometimes when I think of Stonehenge, or Simon or I think I just heard the Universe give a quiet little giggle. And I wish I could see my little friend someday, so I could ask him… “Hey little buddy… Did you ever make it to the party again? “