A bird in hand

We keep our patio door wide open during these warm summer days, and the other morning a curious Blue Tit overshot the birdfeeder and landed right inside our living room. I didn’t notice him until Jake stumbled by in his arthritic clumsiness; it put the little creature into a flutter and gave away his hiding place behind the curtain.

I put my hands out to catch him  and called a soft “psich psich” as I reached out, hoping to let him know that I meant no harm. It seemed to work. He calmed right down, and didn’t object when I carefully cupped his fragile little body. But I was too concerned about hurting him; although he allowed me to handle him he quickly become impatient with my diffidence, and squirmed right out of my hands and onto my index finger. I straightened up in surprise and turned toward Laird with my little passenger; Laird’s eyebrows shot up, and his eyes and mouth softened into an “awwwww…”. I was pretty filled with awe myself. I turned again, walked out to the patio and sat down, and the little bird stayed on my finger for a full five minutes. Laird and I chuckled at the little fellow’s interest in us, he looked me up and down and stared me in the eye, and swivelled his head to study Laird quite thoroughly too. I was utterly charmed. Finally, reluctantly, the little fellow flew off into the bushes.

I often wonder now whether this bird now recognizes me when I step out the door, but I’m sure we humans all look alike to him. And more confusingly, we change our plumage every morning. How’s a bird to know who’se who?

Comfort amid the green growing things

A friend of mine passed away yesterday, far too young and not at all willing. He was diagnosed with cancer back in October and given 3 months to live, but he was determined to see another birthday. Norm succeeded in going out on his own terms and passed away on July 27th, his 48th birthday.

I’m not sure what this has to do with gardening, except that it’s out here – sitting amid green growing things – that I am comforted. Things grow, things die, and if left to nature’s careful handling, every part of it contributes to the regeneration of a soil that will support a new season of growth. Norm was quite pragmatic, describing his lot as “survival of the fittest”. But it’s not that way, not really. Everything that grows and blooms is better because of what came before.

Friends are like that too.

Rest in peace, Norm. I won’t forget you.

We get it

He’s a gardener. A 103 year-old gardener, and of course we fellow gardeners can completely relate:

Widower Jim turns out in all weathers to tend a half-acre garden at his local New Inn pub in Stoke Abbott.

Jim, who still has a full driving licence, arrives on his Ferguson tractor carrying all his tools – including a chainsaw.

He refuses to charge more than £3 an hour and, when asked when he’s going to retire he jokes: "When I get old."

A great man

I’m sad that Steve Irwin is gone. Of course I haven’t watched the Crocodile Hunter since I left Toronto, but from the beginning I was a hooked. In fact, with digital cable and 80+ channels, the only thing I ever watched was nature programs. And Steve Irwin’s was the best – he was a such a goof, but a loveable goof, and his passion and enthusiasm was simply irresistable. He made me laugh, and whenever his show was on everything else stopped. For that 1/2 hour I was no longer sitting in front of a TV in a stuffy inner city apartment, I was transported to wherever he was, getting to know the animals along with him.

R.I.P. Steve. You did your job.