On the shortest day the dawn chorus filled my bedroom and for a moment I thought I was lying on a mossy woodland floor looking up at the bud-thick branches of oaks against a spring-blue sky, but it was only my CD alarm clock, set to wake me slowly and easily at 7.30am. I stretched and smiled thinking; from now on, little by little, the days will get longer.
Clutching lemon tea, I watched the birds on the feeder – mostly blue tits and sparrows, swinging and clinging and swapping places like an acrobat troupe, I could almost hear circus music. And then, in a flurry of pink, a puff of long-tailed tits appeared. With slight-of-wing, they landed, lifted off, landed, criss-crossed each other and seemed to alight on each branch of the old cherry tree for seconds. Then suddenly, they were gone. Fleeting, exciting, breathtaking – a bit like life.
A plump female blackbird maintained her dignity as she balanced on a thin branch of the new crab apple tree, leaned across and plucked a tiny yellow fruit. She brought it to the patio and chased it over the paving slabs before stabbing it with her knife-thrower's beak. Later I found the empty skin glowing like a tiny sun amongst the dark and slimy leaves.
A ringmaster dunnock strutted around the base of the tree, piping in the next act. I glanced around to see who would enter and spotted a nuthatch in its steely-blue cape, mousing down the tree trunk before it completely disappeared –no drum roll, no smoke, no mirrors.
Ambling around the garden I found some early Christmas gifts...