So, after Dennis and Ciara battered and blew us almost into submission we are now waiting for Jorge (name of the next storm whenever it arrives) to do his worst! We have endured endless flood warnings all over the country; it would seem this winter we have all had to put up with the beastly weather. It has not been a great start to 2020 and just when we see a glimmer of warm weather and signs that winter is finally abating, the shadow of coronavirus is over us all. We all know that it is inevitable that things will get worse before they better on that front, I’m not sure anybody, no matter how learned they are, really knows how this will play out. Let’s not forget however, we have survived worse in the past with next to no medical expertise and thankfully less scaremongering!
Reading the newspapers is hardly uplifting with countless stories voicing individual grievances instead of real (not fake) news. So, whilst picking through the paper having breakfast yesterday my spirits were lifted by the simple tweet of a blackbird outside on my lawn. I looked up and smiled. It was warm, the sun was shining and the window was open. The simple pleasure that bird gave me made me think, why am I reading this rubbish and what other pleasures are freely available to me within 50m of where I am currently sat?
So, boots on, camera in hand it was time to explore. First stop, the bird feeders. I only have 3. Two of them are held on ropes from a tree and the other is a transparent box attached to a window. In the space of 30mins I had seen a variety of bird species. The sound they made was angelic. I sat still no more than 10m away and snapped away, at one stage I counted 10 goldfinches all wanting a meal.
They were happy to be joined by several blackbirds who seemed more interested in being the dominant bird than eating. Could they be the political class of the bird world? Suddenly several types of finches appeared from the hedgerow down the garden, please excuse my photography, but they did not stay still very long, nipping in, picking a seed and then away. Lovely little things.
The word must have gone out far and wide, a pair of ring neck doves, fluttered down and majestically picked amongst the detritus that the goldfinches threw down from the feeders. I believe these gentle birds’ pair for life? How wonderful.
Of course, those great survivors, (love them or hate them) the magpies soon appeared and bullied all the other birds away whilst they ate greedily. Ignore my earlier comment about the blackbirds, the magpies are the politicians, well dressed, colourful and always seemingly at the top of the pecking order by means fair or foul. I did not get a picture as I was chasing them away, which made me smile even more! Lastly, when they knew it was safe and risk free the crows and rooks nosily arrived. (Maybe these are the civil servants).
All this noise and activity definitely had an effect on me. It reminded me of an excellent article in the paper recently, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/mind/children-have-cut-nature-giving-mine-outdoor-upbringing written by the author Lucy Jones* about getting kids to reconnect with the outdoors. I wholeheartedly recommend this article to you so I won’t steal her thunder, not that I could articulate her prose anyway! I did discuss this article briefly with Jim on the latest podcast https://fayregamepursuits.com/podcasts so have a listen to that if you get a chance.
The main thrust of my article clearly bears out a lot of what Lucy mentions in her piece. I felt uplifted and happy after simply walking around the garden. I have always believed nature and the outdoors gives us so much more than a cold face or sunburn depending on the season. It gives us peace of mind, physical health, mental strength and wellbeing. We just need to stop, get away from the screen and use the senses we were blessed with at birth. It works for us all, not just children.
Moving back to my tour, I was throroughly enjoying my exploratory walk around. Its so sad that many people hardly ever smile. It apprears to be something that is in short supply these days, as though its fashionable to be miserable. TV dramas and soaps maybe? However, my day was about to get even better and my smile even wider. My four hens must have gauged my mood and without warning produced the first eggs of the year yesterday! Sourbread, mushroons and eggs for brunch!!!
And it was just not ‘the girls’ that delivered, everywhere I looked there were signs of spring, springing forward. Buds on raspberry and blackberry plants, snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses suddenly appearing. A large bush that produces pink flowers every year, I do not know what variety it is, but it does not seem to mind my ignorance, had also blossomed resplendient in nature’s beauty.
When I reached the herb bed, I was greeted with parsley, rosemary, lemon thyme, chives and mint; all starting to enjoy the sunshine. Fresh herbs are unbeatable, it does matter how big or small a space you have, make some time and space for some thyme and mint (in a pot) you will not regret it.
The next time you are feeling a bit down, tired or just bored, make a cup of tea or coffee and find somewhere outside as far away from planes, trains and cars (not automobiles, we are British) and find a place to simply sit, listen, and observe. Any green space will do, our natural species of plants and wildlife are amazing. They might not cure coronavirus or stop Jorge visiting us in the future but they will, I promise, bring a smile if you give them a chance. So, let’s put winter blues behind us and Spring Forward, we have much to be happy about.
* Losing Eden: Why Our Minds Need the Wild by Lucy Jones