'I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out 'til sundown, for going out, I found was really going in.' John Muir

I've seen the top of Everest (from a long way off), smelled the breath of a whale (from way too close) and lived on a boat in Greece (for a few years), but I continue to experience some of my most precious moments right outside my backdoor.

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Monday, 22 December 2014

Winter Solstice Celebration

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...


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