Tag Archives: blackbird

… the vagaries of days …

My dream sinks to a timeless world the instant I open my eyes and take in the first impressions of the day – a shimmering spider web clings to the corner of the skylight, defined in the early sunbeam – a mosquito hovers drunkenly above my laptop. I recall a similar tiny vampire savouring the taste of my blood during my last day in Darwin; did it converse with this one across the oceans by morphic resonance? P1060804 - lower

Almost two weeks have passed since my return. I miss the Aussie company, and mornings at the pool under the palm roof.

Time is fitting hesitantly into habitual chunks. My body tweaks itself into smaller spaces, and tasks resume their orderly sequence. Breakfast oats don’t land in the coffee filter, and my head no longer collides with the chiming bells hanging next to the kitchen sink. Still, having inhaled another kind of dust for a while, an aura of mystery pervades my familiar environment, and routines are shifting, like I scoff at lists, allowing unimportant stuff to be just that, unimportant.

As the sun pours into the house through the garden door, I step outside. A bright orange hot air balloon almost shaves the branches of the high beech. Another follows, with noisy lettering, not as cheerful as the Virgin one with its clear brand. There being no boundaries to the sky, I’ve the visceral sensation of wanting to shrink and become invisible, musing how privacy and solitude are becoming an issue – there’s only in-back and no out-back left in England.

P1060820 - lower A poem stirs, wants out, but mail demands attention. I share my disorientation with friends. Ideas chatter and juggle into new frames, a changed perception of ‘home.’ What’s home other than moving with the experiences that carry us onwards?

I glance at the patch of Phlox waving from the lush green beyond the window and then distract myself from the screen by trimming a miniature Japonica tree into shape. My blackbird friend comes close enough for us to have a conversation.

I make time for a two hour stint of editing ‘Shapers,’ the sequel to my first novel. Moments of laughter – relishing my writing is surely a good sign, until the next stab of doubt – will anyone be interested in my scribbles? The solution is to keep writing, and trust readers will be pulled into my opus and enjoy the adventure.

Another shot of coffee before today’s therapy sessions begin – undivided attention to process, listening to stories. When silences linger in the devoted space, spirits assemble – we are a crowd of presences meditating on meaning, or the lack of it.

P1060831 - lower Though it was not exactly my birthday, I hosted a small garden party last Saturday, celebrating togetherness with friend. I managed to outwit Sunday’s Hurricane Bertha, which, in my corner, merely brought blustery wind and rain. Clouds parted in time to reveal the brilliant super moon.

Preparing for reading in bed, I catch a tiny movement – a huge spider. Totally irrational, but there’s a wrong time and place for spiders in my house … at night, next to my bed, and it’s a matter of scale. The scenario of a huge spider crawling over my skin plays havoc with my imagination. No time to get a glass and chuck the creature out. I’ve light in my maisonette, but take a torch for good measure, and wait. In a while the monster comes for me from its hiding place among books – full attack! While it baffles me that the sure crunch of a spider’s demise can in such instant bring me satisfaction, it’s also sobering to realise how discordant timing is neither good nor bad, it just is.

P1060834 - smallerGiven the vagaries of experiences each day brings, the only control given to us seems to be pliancy. As I write this, a rainbow flows across a cloud.

‘The same wind that uproots trees
makes the grass shine.
The lordly wind loves the weakness
and the lowness of grasses.
Never brag of being strong.
The axe doesn’t worry how thick the branches are.
It cuts them to pieces. But not the leaves.
It leaves the leaves alone.’
Rumi, The Essential Rumi


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… my blackbird …

Cutting grass – a blackbird sings just for me – I delight in its delight of fresh delicacies.

My black friend

My black friend

Under slow-sailing clouds in shades of white, concluding my war-path on dandelions, and having put up my hammock, I sit and watch first apple blossoms and my black friend, hopping closer and closer in its ritual dance – 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 –  pause – picking up a worm – 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – within a meter – we look at each other.

Blackbirds are enduring friends in my garden, notwithstanding the occasional mishaps:




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update on the drama in my garden …

If you read my June 3d entry here you will remember my crime.

The grey and fluffy young blackbird I toppled from her nest and managed to bring home again, is now out and about. The little one is so-so at locating worms but not a great flyer, yet.  And she comes very close to my door, peeking in from time to time, remembering, not doubt, my pitiful attempts to feed it grubs. And here is why I think I traumatised the little one. She is now capricious about food.

Shiny, black dad does his utter best to introduce Morello cherries to his offspring. An acquired taste, a little tart, I admit, but considered a great delicacy among blackbirds. The tree provides me with wonderful jam each year and I always leave plenty of fruit for birds.

Picture the teen fluffing about on the head of my little stone Buddha waiting for her dad. There he comes, with a bright-red cherry in his beak, already de-stoned. The young one takes one taste and spits it out. Dad picks up the morsel and tries again, repeat. This goes on for several rounds until the cycle is broken by the firm consistency of dad and the cherry is swallowed.

Watching the scene every morning on top of my stone Buddha’s head cracks me up; it’s so entertaining I keep forgetting to fetch my camera – maybe next time.

Later addition …

Just got this delightful drawing as an early birthday present from my son’s partner, Tasha. It encapsulates my little friend’s bliss, which is worms after all.


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major drama in my garden – all my fault

After the usual procrastination I cut my grass today, and for good measure decided to thin the ivy smothering my shed. This was ill conceived – an ear piercing screech and rattle made me grab a branch or I would have toppled from my ladder. Two blackbirds shot from the thick of the ivy, and the racket didn’t stop there. I had disturbed their nest. Crushed, I left the crime scene to watch the birds through the window from my desk. There was no end to the palaver, something was seriously amiss.

Illustration by Natasha Tonkin

Illustration by Natasha Tonkin

I found a plump fledgling on the ground giving me angry tweets and an accusing stare. What now? Feeling properly guilty, my mind started spinning. The teen must get back to its nest or … the last time I had nursed a bird was in Somerset. We were a family then, and it wasn’t me digging holes for worms, a full-time job, I recalled.

Somewhat unsure, I took a step towards the fledgling. Frantic attack – the parent blackbirds swished over my head like missiles. All right, all right, back to my desk. The birds kept cruising and complaining, and I kept a nervous lookout for cats. My garden is a highway for cats. The fledgling disappeared from my view, though its tweet, tweet was steady, quite loud, I thought, and near, I thought … very near … the little one had hopped through my door … ‘All your fault, your sort it’ … I swear that’s what I heard. And more … ‘Feed me!’ … its beak snapped open so wide I saw only orange.

Donning soft garden gloves, I picked up the bird, got tweezers and started looking for morsels under flowerpots. No worms, only grubs rolled into balls or twirling their tiny legs. Three of wriggly things were eagerly gobbled up, after that, outright refusal. Maybe they tickle in the belly. By that time the whole garden was in uproar. More birds had gathered to protest, some on the roof. The parents zigzagged between trees and shed, even wood pigeons zoomed in to see what was going on.

Up the ladder then, to find the nest in the jungle of ivy, and there was something in the dark that looked like a nest. I shoved the fledgling forward. Flatter, flatter, flop, and the silly bird was back on the ground. Oh my, the protest from my growing bird-audience was deafening. The teen seemed fine, a little dazed, but fine.

Back to my desk, to calm down, to think … tweet, tweet … the fledgling was back on the doormat … ‘Now do something right’ … The cage, I had a decorative cage. Some ivy, some dry grass and leaves, ready, only for protection dear, while I go worm-hunting. So much for ornamental cages, birds sure have an inbuilt dread of cages; this one squeezed its way out in no time. What a spirit.

No doubt the rebel would wander back to my door. I got a torch, mind you, the sun was shining. The birds had chosen a perfect hiding place in the depth of the ivy, until I came along with my shears, convinced breeding time was done. To my relief the nest was there, empty, unharmed, just within my reach. I fetched my little friend, who was indeed waiting for me in the door, and I brought him home. The peace is divine.


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