Thursday, 24 May 2012
A Little Life.
Yesterday, in the sudden warmth, a puffed-up infant blackbird crouched on the bird-table, fluttering, quivering, squawking at its resigned-looking parent. There was still the remains of a yellow gape in the infant beak, and the seemingly smaller parent wearily pushed food into the demanding mouth.
The parent bird flew off, and the fat infant decided to feed itself, which it could do perfectly well.
Then a couple of sparrows landed nearby, and the infant reverted into a fluttering, beseeching, gaping cushion. The sparrows turned their backs, and rightly so.
This morning, in a cool mist that presaged considerable heat by afternoon, I went out to fill the watering cans. On top of the clipped bay tree beside the shed lay a large, fat, speckled infant blackbird, claws curved against the cool air, eyes filmed, life over. It must have flown into the glass of the summerhouse window and broken its neck.
Such a little life.
All over the garden there are miniature dramas and tragedies as young creatures learn to live independently.
My neighbour's adolescent cat, whose name is Frank, spends a lot of time hanging out here.
A few months ago, in very cold weather he learned that no one can walk on thin ice, and more recently he decided to have a little look in the nearby badgers' sett. He exploded from the tunnel, looking twice his normal size and barely made it over the fence in his frantic rush for home.
But he is back, and in his wake are the tiny corpses of two baby field-mice. They have ventured away from home and been tortured, played with and killed by a giant with scimitar claws. Or perhaps they died of fright on meeting Frank, as Frank could well have died meeting the badgers.
It's all learning by experience. We all have to do it, and sometimes the cost is very high.
In the pond a few tiny newts are dicing with death as they may or may not evade the one surviving goldfish, who in turn is the sole survivor of a very harsh winter and repeated heron attacks.
Baby birds flutter everywhere, and I know the sparrow hawk is visiting daily, but he/she too has infants to raise.
Yesterday a friend and I watched a newly emerged dragonfly dry its crumpled cling-film wings in the sun, and I wonder who has eaten it for lunch today.
This really sudden heat has galvanised life in the garden into a frantic action, or perhaps the warmth has made me sit out there, just looking. Every time I spend more than a few minutes out here I see something remarkable, something unexpected, something sad, something beautiful. So much of my own admittedly little life is being lived out here.
I am sometimes made to think that I should get out more. I should be doing more sociable things with 'U3A' as so many of my friends do. They are always off somewhere, doing Tai Chi, visiting Provence, learning a language, being taught to use Photoshop.
But I am here, in my garden, marvelling at growth and life and death.