My small patch of earth.
The world is a weird place at the moment. I feel small, and although not hiding away, just like I want to take a step out of it all. I want to fade into the background, and watch, and wait.
I pace the length of the garden, with tea and bare feet. Our house sits bang in the middle, with garden on all sides. Some parts just a path, others expanding slightly to contain vegetables, grasses, wildlife hidey-holes. Big trees tower above me, each a friend. Silver Birch. Goat Willow. Holly. Norway Spruce.
I watch the trees through the seasons – twigs dropping in high winter winds, then fluffy catkins, and sap dripping in spring. Now, here in the UK summer, leaves are deep green and the holly is flowering. Magpies live in the very top of the spruce, swaying in the breeze, whilst down below, a family of sparrows feed on fat balls and bird seed. Birch leaves catch the light and tousle gently. Long-tailed tits and Goldfinches chatter to each other in the high branches.
We have let the garden go wild, through both choice and circumstance. A choice to create more habitat for wildlife intersected with the onset of chronic fatigue. A bit of both means our garden is now a wild space, messy by conventional standards, but teaming with exciting little creatures who have come to make their homes.
Grasses and wild oregano crept up through stone paving, and now hide small frogs and very fast spiders. A hedge we had to take down as it was growing through the neighbour’s retaining wall is chopped and piled and home to something snuffly. A few metres of land, filled with rubble, has been left to its own devices. Long grass hides mice and insects and the occasional cat. Brambles grow around the compost heaps, with bees, wasps and hoverflies enjoying the nectar.
We have a pond, home to 8 (at last count) frogs, who had millions of tadpoles this year. This year also, I saw the first dragonflies and damselflies flitting over the water in flashes of red and iridescent blue. In recent years, the insect population has noticeably increased, and with it come the bigger animals. Tree bumblebees nest in the attic. The last few weeks have brought baby birds galore – robin, blackbird, blue tits, coal tits and the aforementioned sparrows and magpies. Lockdown brought a buzzard, circling overhead and being mobbed by crows. There are bullrushes growing in the builders yard over the back, abandoned in recent months whilst council and developers clash over permissions. I secretly cross my fingers behind my back and wish into the universe.
In these light evenings we stand in the dusk and watch the resident hedgehog snuffle around in the leaves. I find solitary bee holes in mud. I watch flowers unfurl and smile into the sunshine. I pick up scents on the breeze – dust, flowers, rain. The brambles creep closer. The grass grows wilder.
In our few square metres, life continues on, unaware of pandemics and hustle and bustle. With the rhythm of days comes the dependable rhythm of another world, going about its business but maybe finding it a little quieter than usual, a little more food than usual, the air a little sweeter than usual.
I pace the length of the garden, with tea and bare feet. And again. And again.