Monday, 19 March 2018

A Little Bird Told Me

A little bird came to my windowsill and sat and sang so sweetly I was held captive by the sound, hardly daring to breathe lest the story-song be interrupted. Strangely such sweetness turned out to be a tale that the robin considered to be The Tragic Epic of how the day was going for him and his feathered compatriots.

His complaint was about the Sudden Return of the previously banished Great, Silent, White.

He told me that it had covered all the Good Things to Eat, even the ones in the garden where noisy, galumphing humans put out tasty tit-bits for birds.

It had covered everything as far as eye could see and wing could fly.

He would like to encourage me to come and have a look

But if I wouldn't mind please scattering some more seeds for him and his feathered friends, he'd be most grateful.

"Soon as you like - it's cold out here and the cold white sky keeps falling!"

So, having fed the birds, once again our tiny band of intrepid explorers went to see what there was to be seen.

A endeavour that proved slightly harder than usual

But not insurmountable.

Those of us with longer legs had an easier time of it.

It was indeed white as far as the eye could see.

Even the high  moor, where the snow is often blown off by the wind before it can really settle, was white.

There were flurries of arcticly bitter wind sending swirls of snow into our faces, covering our tracks and causing anything that could flap to make patterns on the sparkling ground.

In the little dips where the wind doesn't often reach, the trees were still piled high with nature's version of royal icing. So much healthier for waistline and teeth!

Where the wind was at it's most toothsome the snow had been shimmied and shaken into ripples,

grabbed from the tops of anything and everything,

and thrown in hard against the walls.

We climbed to the very top of the hill

We surveyed the scene

and then, quite frankly, scuttled back home again to the warm.

Making sure to feed everyone who's food had disappeared before we shut the door.

If it's snowy where you are - please remember to put something out for the little feathered ones. Who knows when you might need to know what only a little bird can tell you.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

The Battle of The Birds

The snow finally stopped snowing and people, mainly winged people, started to come out of whichever hedges they'd been hiding in. On top of all the crisp whiteness, clearly devoid of anything good to eat for anyone, we threw a handful of breadcrumbs - and inadvertently started a war! Or a day of battle at least.

This fine fellow started it. He came to our garden and swapped a crumb for a song (as the bard said - follow this link to hear Telling The Bees beautiful song 'Blackbird') 

He briefly flapped off home and invited his lady wife to join him, which she did, gratefully eating the crumbs in a far more delicate way then her bluff and bullish husband. She eyed me cagily as I photographed her.

He, meanwhile, was seeing off all competition in no uncertain manner!

He strutted around chasing Robins, (this one had a sneaky peck while The Blackbird Bully was seeing off some Robin cousins.)

He flew at Hedge Sparrows,

Even Song Thrushes, a bird as big as he, were not safe from his attacks.

He was busy for a good while, defending the crumbs against all comers.

Some retired from the fray and took up spectating.

Some engaged him in dance after dance, playing here we go round the mulberry bush between spats.

But in the end, even this determined little thrush gave up.

He just sat on the gate and let the wind blow through his feathers, while the blackbird hopped from foot to foot on the cold snow, refusing to budge.

He took up a 'Position of Power' underneath the sage bush, his feathers all fluffed up against the cold.

When any other bird strayed near HIS crumbs he was straight at them. Fanning his tail out and puffing himself up, partly against the cold, but partly perhaps to show what an impressive opponent he was.

Fluffed-up and spread out seemed to be a popular stance. There were those brazen enough to risk the blackbird's ire. They came in twos and threes, so someone always got a peck or two while the others provided the distraction.

Some others took up 'Positions of Power' too! This robin sitting on a snow hillock to emphasise his momentary dominion over the field.

I don't suppose the robin's really were working together, but you never know. When the blackbird gave up, just too cold to stay put any longer, they started fighting each other for the crumbs. And we went for a walk.

Out of the gate, past the battle field.

We walked along the tractor tyre path

Because it's so much less slippy, and frankly, none of us are getting any younger!

Although not all of us always act our age.

We went past frozen wonders,

Past the garden, now straight out of Narnia and no longer looking like something that needs some urgent weeding. The magics of snow are many!

Across the starkly beautiful fields,

To 'The View'.

From here we can see Hound Tor,

Bowerman's Nose and Hay Tor too, but I didn't photograph those. And wild and beautiful land, both farms and moorland, that stretches out in every direction. On a clear day you can see the sea. Not today.

It's mostly gone now, the snow, and the strange and beautiful feeling of being isolated and yet utterly in community with all that lives has slightly dissipated. Snow days were full of beautiful moments, watching birds for half and hour or more, making cakes and real hot chocolate, sewing and reading and making music. We lit fires which we then sat and watched rather than just being slightly absently grateful for as we focus on what 'needs' to be done.

It is my wish for myself that I will remember have snow days even when it isn't snowing. To feel the spaciousness of 'nothing too pressing to do', to know that there are few things in this life that really need to be done BEFORE you have a cup of tea, or look at the birds, or listen to their songs, or remember that you are part of all of this - an indivisibly interwoven facet of Nature, as truly as any blackbird or berry.

I wish it for you too.