I have been up and about since around 6am. After my dogs are fed and settled and I have taken my medication, I generally make a couple of slices of toast and a big mug of coffee. Then, I watch. I pick a place to sit and observe the garden, through a window. If it’s a warmer season, I will sit outside. I then simply watch, as I slowly savour my coffee.
What I saw, as I made my observations this morning, was nature taking a further step towards spring. We fitted a bird box onto the garden facing wall of our cottage, in the autumn. Now, it has a little family of blue-tits living there but today, for the first time, emerged two little fledgeling blue-tits. All of the creatures are so human-friendly, for we put their food and water out each day. So, as they made their bumpy first flight, they excitedly chased each other all around the hedgerow that lines the garden perimeter. They then explored the patio, for I have planted a hedgerow that creates a smaller ‘room’ in the patio end of the garden. They were exploring, chasing and were filled with excitment; closely watched by their attentive mother.
The hedgerow is only just coming into leaf; with the blossom from forsythia and prunus starting to show a hint of the bright yellows and gentle pinks to come. As I watched through the kitchen window, I noticed that the hedgerows were absolutely bustling with activity. I recognised wrens, robins, blue-tits, chaffinches and a couple of other species that I was uncertain of. I’ll have to check my book. Then, swooping down, onto the bird table, in turn, from the little woodland beside our cottage were blue-jays, nut hatch’s, wood pigeons and a crow. Across the field beside our cottage, the oak trees are filled with crows and the noise of them is a bit raucus!
Just as I smiled at all of this beauty, I noticed a movement at one part of the garden fence and I watched, to find a rabbit making a gentle journey along the bottom of the fence, on the field side of it. It occured to me that all of this; this stunning show of nature living, playing and exploring was happening in front of my eyes, as I enjoyed my delicious coffee. Then, I simply felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for such a priviliged experience.
I then thought of my former life in London. Gardens with stark wooden fences or walls. No hedgerows lining them. Just the stark six foot high boundary, or border, that defines human territory and offers no access to ground dwelling creatures; such as rabbits and hedgehogs. I thought of all of the birdsong in my ears and thought of London, where you hear some birds but where there are so many cats that the rich diversity of birdlife has been chased away by the multitude of our feline friends, by trees being cut down and by hedgerows simply being a rarity in gardens. I thought of the noise of pretty much any city; people, cars, buses, lorries, sirens and the absence of nature.
Oh yes, my sense of gratitude for where I find myself today was enormous. The richness of the habitat in our cottage garden has actually been created by us. We added the hedgerows, the flowers, the fruit shrubs and already this year I have planted five silver-birch trees in our little cottage garden; to further offer habitat and coverage for the birds and to add places for insects to live. Only yesterday, I added the broken pieces of a terracotta pot to the bottom of one part of the hedge; to create an insect friendly habitat that will benefit insects but will also increase their number and help feed the birds.
And so we go on. Everything we do is about adding beauty, contributing habitat and conserving nature as best we can, in our little patch of this land. My coffee was good. I am grateful but, importantly, I have taken time out to recognise that I am grateful and to acknowledge it and that, in fact, only adds to the joy of my early morning.