Dear Readers, the starlings are back in some numbers after a brief interlude for moulting in August. Most of them have their fine adult feathers everywhere but on their heads. They are independent now, and seem to be trying out the haws and the rowan berries to see what’s edible.
Maybe it’s something about this year, but I feel very tenderly inclined to the creatures in the garden this year. I confess to a lump in my throat as I see these youngsters considering what to eat, or surveying the sky in case of danger. Since Mum and Dad have died I have been horribly aware of our fragility and the ephemeral nature of our life on this earth. The Norse tale about life being like a bird flying out of the darkness and through a long-house, where everyone is feasting and shouting, and then flying out of the window and into darkness again has never seemed more apt.But what an extraordinarily beautiful year it has been. Spring seemed so exuberant, so full of promise. The summer was languid and sun-kissed, and the autumn seems likely to end in a crescendo of bright berries and autumn leaves. Did I just never notice it before?
I hear a strange clicking sound from the white-beam and see a squirrel coming down from one of the two dreys built in the treetop. This is quite a well-grown youngster now, and it has learned the trick of getting the sunflower seeds from the feeder.
And how had I never noticed that the tail of a grey squirrel looks like a monochrome image of a candle flame?
And then I hear a starling practicing his song, with all the usual whistling and tsscking that I associate with adult birds. I hope you can hear it over the background noise.
And so, I have come to trust that the garden will always provide something sustaining, something to make me feel less bruised and vulnerable. Whenever I sit there alone and don’t distract myself with my phone or a newspaper, whenever I just allow myself to become still and my senses to tune in to what’s going on, something will appear. Something that was there all the time, but I was just too busy to notice. And therein lies a lesson, I think.