Monday, 16 November 2020

wisdom, we are told .....

The fog has been with us two days; yesterday not lifting at all but today dissipating during the afternoon.
Georges Pond is rainwater-filled to the brim
We walk to the stables and watch rooks gather in noisy pre-roost groups, talking loudly amongst themselves about the days' foraging. They fall silent before moving with a long cheer to their country park roost. Their behaviour is, in a sense unnatural, as they have the confidence of animals for whom predators are scarce. Our skies await the arrival of goshawks, red kites - or eagles to help achieve a natural balance.

There is none of the 'woomf' of unwonted rockets launched this evening. Over the past two days the night air has been thick with the smoke of fireworks and the night sky has boomed until two in the morning. Pity the outdoor grazing animals, pets or birds at roost  during the 'celebrations'.

Tonight a calm dusk segues to night before 5:00pm.

Two pipistrelle bats work the autumn air over the lawn and around the thinning sycamores. The wood pigeon population, boosted by autumn migrants from the continent, crash and blunder in the trees. Our end-of-shift tawny tuwhit hoohoos invisibly close by and a buzzard, huge in the failing light, mews over our heads as it comes in to roost.

These are the days when we reflect on the progress we've made in our nine years here. Then this was a brown field site dominated by the concrete bases of an abandoned and derelict mushroom farm. Commercial conifers had been planted too densely and left for decades. Piles of brick among higher piles of discarded insulation. Now, the houses are built and six acres of garden have been landscaped.  George's Pond is splendidly full on a site where no water has ever gathered. Smooth newts have spread this year where none had previously been recorded. We disturbed a beachball big toad, torpid, who'd buried herself in last years leaf mould. We gave her a safer place to sleep off the winter. 
We've always more to do and always aware of what hasn't been done rather than what has. But this evening, the garden is still and is preparing for more rain. We married when we were little more than children and both recall a nonsense TV cartoon which was screening as we went house hunting. In it cartoon animals sang 'We're on our way to the perfect place..' As the rest of the country endures lockdown we work through our lists, weeding, pruning and mulching so that the garden will look even better next year, truly counting our blessings. In our perfect place.

To be a gardener is to always be looking forward. We collect leaves or make compost for following years. We collect and plant seeds, take cuttings plant. Even the most dour of our calling must have a spark of optimism that compels us to do things now in anticipation of how they will look next season, next year, in ten years. Those with children frequently share the pleasure of growing plants, hoping that the succeeding generation will catch 'the bug'. Those with tiny balconies use ingenuity in growing many floors above busy cities. Those in apartments grow houseplants. In doing so, we probably count ourselves lucky to be set apart from the shrink-wrapped, homogenised world that is the twentyfirst century. In our own ways, we are giving something back, contributing in some small way to our own health and the wellbeing of the planet.

Wisdom, we are told, is old men planting trees under whose branches they will never sit. As climate change roars on, as we denigrate the environment and drive early and unnecessary extinction forward for so many species, our leaders could do worse than spend a little more time in the company of gardeners.

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