Dear Readers, I’d like to say that anniversaries and birthdays and such become easier as time goes on, but it wouldn’t be absolutely true. This is the second Fathers’ Day since Dad died in March 2020, and although I try to ignore it, I still feel it in the pit of my stomach when the first signs for cards with pictures of golf players and beer tankards appear in the shops. It seems to me that our idea of masculinity on Fathers’ Day comes down to armchairs and slippers, cricket bats, DIY and the occasional watering can, or at least that’s what Hallmark would seem to believe. Where’s the room for what a father can really mean, I wonder? At any rate, I like to imagine that these two collared doves, cuddled up together on one flimsy twig at the top of a hawthorn, are parent and child. I’m sure the one at the front looks a bit fluffier and less well-defined than the one behind. I have a growing appreciation for these tender little birds, with their soft plumage that shades from grey to tan without any noticeable gradation. Ombre fabrics are very in this year, and collared doves have that look nailed.
The angelica is still full of bees, but these are the last few heads. Soon it will all be over, for the year and possibly for this plant, as they’re usually biennial. Still hopefully lots of babies will pop up. And I have my eye on an Angelica gigas for next year, they’re purple and apparently even bigger. So many of the plants that work well in the garden – foxgloves, honesty, teasel, and this big brute – are biennials, which means that you have to plan in advance if you want them every year.
And then I have a look by the side of the pond, where I planted some species geraniums. These are doing pretty well but I see the tell-tale twisting stems of bindweed popping up, and so I start to do some clearing. An adult frog leaps into the pond and then looks around with an aggrieved expression. But how about this little one, smaller than my little fingernail?
It’s been a wet couple of days, and all the froglets are taking advantage of the dampness to leave the pond, though I still seem to have a fair few tadpoles. I always wonder where they go, these little ones, but at the moment every time I move a plant they explode out from underneath it like popcorn. So much new life! It’s cheering to see things going on as normal, the world turning. When the heron came to the pond a few years ago and systematically ate every frog it could find, I imagined that there would be a hiatus in the frog population, but not a bit of it – they had recovered even within the year. What is a personal tragedy for an individual frog matters not a whit to nature, who carries on regardless, rebalancing and compensating. Dad and Mum are gone, and yet life goes on, dragging me along in its wake. Like plants, we are always turning towards the light.