It is April, and it is the month when life is beginning to unfurl. Last week there were hardly any leaves on the Elderberry and on the Cherry Blossom trees, this week the Cock and Hen Bullfinches are taking it in turn to - as I like to put it - prune the buds off the trees. Despite their depradations it would appear that this will be a fecund year for elderberries, [lovely Autumn jellies to come], and masses of confetti like blooms spread over the lawn. I can hear OH now, already bemoaning the "mess" on his velvet lawns, newly mown with pride. Amazing what a new lawn mower can achieve.
E.D and I were having a cuppa in the dining room last week on Good Friday when across the garden flew what, at first, I took to be a Sparrowhawk, but under closer inspection before she turned to land, turned out to be a Cuckoo. The first sighting in years, in my childhood they were prolific, April airs abounded with their gleeful call, boasting how they had ousted chicks from nests and installed their own eggs. Many's the Dunnock Mother that had to have psychiatric attention when the eggs hatched and to her horror the never closed beak of her newborn demanded more and more food, and grew to three times her size. She, naturally, in line with the Motherhood rules, blamed it on His side...she always knew her Mother-in-Law was a cuckoo! Mme Cuckoo this time was off to evict nests in next door's gorse.
March has been a busy month, cutting fire breaks, carefully checking each 12' high gorse bush [it has been a long time since the last fire] to ensure that there were no residents of this gorse tenement. Unfortunately, the local council have not been so diligent, and have used a JCB to cut a swathe across some local heathland. As a result we are overrun with residents seeking housing. The population of the three neighbouring gardens has grown tenfold, recession hits more than one walk of life it seems.
Jenny Wren was disgruntled at first when we started on the tussocks of grass wherein she used to drop down, seeking whatever grubs that lurked among them, but with the cleared ground has come an easier harvest and she has stopped her "tsk-tsk-tsking". Portly woodpigeons, like wealthy bankers, ponderously plod across the velvet lawn, and the Magpies have been nipping dead pieces of ivy twig to build their nests, planning permission granted or not, building in the bird world is not at a standstill. Last years outcast has survived the winter, albeit with pinky hued feathers rather than his siblings pristine white; they appear to have either accepted him or are too busy nest building to bother with him.
Maybe they admire his tenacity. There is something sad though in the way he has built a haphazard nest in the blue cedar, twigs awry, and no female will entertain his amorous advances. He sits in the evenings at the peak of the tree muttering to himself, and answers me when I say "what's afoot Mag?". I get "no, no, upty, der, der, der" in return...as soon as the Oxford Dictionary of Magpie monotone conversation comes out I shall buy a copy and we shall have heavy discourse on life, and the pursuit of a mate.
The Silver and her daughter The Bracken foxes are busy. Silver has cubs I think. There is heavy duty work going on bringing home leftover chicken carcases, I have long ago abandoned putting such into dustbins, it is annoying to have bin lids clanging in the wee hours, so I leave them out at the end of the garden. Afterall, it is recycling after a fashion. They keep the vermin down. A morsel of mouse makes an appetiser for a chicken meal.
The old mangy dog fox is back. He is not the fine fellow who courted the Silver in the Autumn but rather a sickly specimen with ragged coat, dull and unkempt, his brush is gone - in place of a fine outstanding brush his resembles a blade of grass with the seed removed. He sits high on the hill amongst the uncut gorse and watches for whatever it is he watches. I have called the relevant people to come and try to capture him; he is a health hazard to his clan and to all domestic dogs and cats. I am informed that if I could tell them what time he will be around they will send someone up, have you met a fox lately who sticks rigidly to a timetable? No, nor me either.
All I can hope for is that he will go away again, he arrives for a couple of weeks every year and then disappears. I suspect TB, he crosses the garden in broad daylight and stands looking at the house. It is as if thinking is too much of a burden for his brain to bear. Half of me is hugely sympathetic, the other half is afraid of what damage he might do and how his illness might impinge on my beautiful Silver and Bracken vixens. Those ladies of lush coats [cubs have not taken their toll on a harassed Mum yet]. Mme Pounce visited for Easter week end and to her disgust was quarantined for her own good. I didn't need any dictionary to understand that language!
The Siskins have arrived, as have the Swallows. Easter weather was crisp but sunny and wonderful in sheltered spots. Beneath the blue Cedar violets and anenomies and grape hyacinths abound. Red tulips grace the lawn amidst the daffodils who are fast coming to the end of their reign for this Spring.
Work continues apace on my Father's rockery which we re-discovered after cutting down Lawsonii which had grown right up to the kitchen window. The kitchen is now a haven of bright sunrays, a makeover with paint which we had to hand from the old house, and new lino on the floor. If kitchen's could preen, this poor, sad and neglected lady would positively dance like a peacock.
I stood looking down the garden on Easter Monday and wondered what Mum would have made of all the changes, hoping she would be proud and pleased. The biggest is yet to come, an extension to house a family sized kitchen and an extra bedroom. I may have inherited over a year ago, but she still reigns and for that I am thankful.
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