Our kitchen window looks to the south over land dropping down to the valley’s river. Underneath the waving of tan reed bushes, where I imagine once were green pastures, the land lies crinkled and rocky.
There is an endless magic show outside this window. The sun poking from behind clouds and the riotous birdsong in the trees and hedges surrounding the house. This past week, we heard the return of two more of our migratory birds: The Cuckoo and the Grasshopper Warbler. Almost overnight, the leaves on the trees are beginning to unfurl.
And, the swallows are back. We saw four flying about earlier this month.
Most of us are perpetually short of time, but now we are bathed in it. By the close of the day, I wonder how the hours flew past so effortlessly? No doubt I lost track of time observing ripples crossing the water of the pond or birds splashing in the bird bath. Have we always had so many bees on the Willow catkins?
Like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, I have busied myself intently observing the happenings beyond these panes of glass. Unlike Jimmy Stewart’s character, I do not have a broken leg. I’ve recorded in my journal a week of kitchen window observations and remind myself that each of these details happens just once, like an introduction or a death.
Today I spotted a small Tortoise Shell butterfly landing on the catkins of the Willow tree. This very tree self-seeded itself about five years ago. Things grow slowly here, so it is currently the size of a tree half its age, but it is coming along nicely. This gives us both hope as Roger recently completed planting 120 trees in our fields. I did not help. Instead, I finished filling the certainly-more-than-a-mere-120 potholes along the track.
Next, we have the veg beds to complete before planting out in a few weeks. And there sits 16 tonnes of rocks to shift as we build up our gabion wall to protect against erosion. We’re busy.
While chatting with one of my brothers, I watched a solitary ant roam about the window ledge, then up and over the screen of my phone. It paused, perhaps taking in the image of my brother as he laughed at a joke. I wonder, when will we get our annual ant invasion? Every spring, for one-day only, the ants come marching into the kitchen from the window or under the cabinets. For a few hours, they are everywhere. A proper horror show invasion! We throw open the windows and the door and within about an hour, they are all gone. It’s as if they have a nest deep in the stone walls of the house, emerge when conditions are just so, and then head off on their summer adventures. Was this first ant on a scouting mission, distracted by the conversation between me and Peter?
Tonight there will be a Pink Moon, the full moon of April. Last night we saw the preview of this Supermoon casting the most splendid shadows across the land. But, as this day has rolled on, the clouds have increased, giving a hazy effect to what had been otherwise a clear blue sky with sunshine. There will be no lunar observation this evening for us.
“It’s happening Reg, something’s actually happening Reg!” In the distance, a thick cloud of smoke is filling the air, adding to the haze in the distance. I hope it is my neighbours having a bonfire, the result of a lot of gardening work, but I will call to confirm. It’s been so dry lately, a fire could easily travel.
In the upper right-hand corner of the window I watched a spider cast her web. I am captured by her design and abilities to hang, drop, hang, attach, leap, hang, drop, attach, hang, knot…..
Oh my! The spider’s web trapped a plump fly. She’s feasting on it but I can only see this from a distance. Too close and she retreats, her meal safely wrapped in her web.
There’s a light frost covering the ground and most of the daffodils are blooming. I had planted an extra 150 bulbs last autumn. The small white flowers on the Blackthorn have emerged. We put the hedges in almost four years ago and this is the first flowering we’ve had. They are finally establishing themselves. Small daisies are appearing in the grass, a cheery presence. Seemingly overnight, the nettles are growing in and amongst the hedge plants. I will go out and cut them to make soup and pesto.
What madness! The chaffinches just chased the Great Tits off of the bird feeders. Our hens just chased the rabbits (yes, more than one. Little buggers!) and Jackdaws from the bird seed laying on the ground. A big rat poked its head out from under one of the shrubs. Of course, all I need to do is say “damn rats” and off Millie and Brock go to issue their barking orders to who is permitted to gather socially at the feeders. Rats are not on their accepted list. Of course, all the other birds fly away too, but are now returning.
Ah, two Siskins! We haven’t seen them in ages. Green Finches and Gold Finches are joining the crowd too.
Those nettles have grown. I must get busy and do something about them before they become too big, too tough and bullish to confront.
Atop one of the dead trees on the other side of the river a buzzard is perched. Earlier I watched her circle above and then drop like a rock to the ground. I wonder what she’s caught? She’s busy now preening and sitting comfortably with a full belly. I do love birds of prey and their “top dog” pecking order.
In all of this quiet, it is shocking to see three separate helicopters fly over. Where are they headed? What are they transporting? I don’t think I’ve ever given this much thought before.
Bold as brass, a Stoat ran past before diving in between gaps in the stone wall. Is this what was attacking the baby rabbit the other day when I heard those horrible cries from the wall?
All this activity outside the kitchen window. The living room window offers a view of the pond and different observations. Meanwhile, the radio plays the news in the background of my hide. The daily release of stats with the humanity behind it incomprehensible. I get up to turn it off and resume my perch.
As the evening begins to creep in, there is a silence like sinking into sleep. A calm and settled place.
Ooh, there went a bat!