The wisteria in my garden is in full flower. It climbs across the pergola, with long, pale-lilac racemes reaching down to gently touch my face with delicate, purse-like flowers. As the air around them moves, like dancers the racemes drift together in slow-motion, first one way and then another.
My wisteria is beautiful during the day, but at night, when I stand and behold the muted colours and drink in the faint perfume that hangs in the air, it is truly glorious.
Wisteria at night
I was sitting in bed a few days ago with my morning cup of tea, and I heard a familiar tap-tap-tapping from outside. It was the woodpecker back again, but I was aware that through my closed window, what should have been a bright, sharp sound was dull and muted. I love listening to the sounds of nature, especially the birds, so although it was a cool morning with a slight frost, I opened my window wide in order to hear more clearly. I snuggled back under my duvet and while listening to the lovely rhythmic drumming, I got to thinking as I frequently do. And I thought how we often hear God in a muffled, indistinct sort of way, in-between all the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. We are aware He is there, but we can’t hear clearly what He is saying. It’s at times like these that we need to fling open our metaphorical windows, and let the fresh sounds of His voice stream into our stuffy rooms, and take real notice of what He is saying to us.
What a beautiful morning! Clear blue sky; birds singing; leaf buds thickening on the trees. Makes me feel glad to be alive.
Thank you God.
I had to look upwards again today when I heard a familiar tap-tap-tap high up in next-doors old oak tree. I’d noticed it first a couple of weeks ago, but until this morning the culprit had eluded me. I was just leaving the house with my dog Charlie for his daily walk, when I heard the tapping again, a hollow vibration echoing through the clear morning air. I stopped and gazed upwards into the oak tree, scanning up and down the trunk and branches, and listening out for the sound again. Finally I saw him – a greater-spotted woodpecker – perched high up on a branch. I watched for a brief moment, then there was a flash of red under-belly and he was off, swooping across the pale blue sky, and leaving me with the feeling that spring is just around the corner.
The woodpecker was too fast and too far away to get a photo this time, so here’s a photo from a couple of years ago instead.
Once you’ve had a dog, life is very empty without one. So let me introduce you to Charlie.
After Brinny had gone (see my previous post), I searched local dog rescue websites, and a few days later Charlie almost jumped out of the screen! I emailed expressing my interest; had a home check, and then went to see what he was like in real life. Charlie is a small, three-year old black and white terrier cross, with a bit of spaniel. He is very energetic, with an intelligent harlequin face, and a constantly wagging flag of a tail. I was hooked! Charlie sat quite happily with my friend Maureen on the back seat going home, with thankfully no sign of the travel sickness Brinny had had. After showing Charlie around and settling him down, I took a look at the notebook I had been given, with notes and tips from his previous owner. It told how Charlie had been rescued from the streets of Galway, Western Ireland, where he had been found on a busy roundabout; before being re-homed with an Irish family. However, I then discovered that he kept escaping their garden, over five foot walls – surely I should have been told that vital piece of information! My fences were all about five feet high! I couldn’t risk Charlie escaping, so until a good friend had added some trellis to the top of my existing fences, Charlie had to go out in the garden on a lead. (Thank you so much David for all your hard work before Christmas – and what a fantastic job you’ve done!) Now it’s safe to let Charlie run around in the garden, and he can bark madly at squirrels and pigeons, with no risk of him following them over the fence!
Charlie is still frightened of other dogs and barks uncontrollably at any we meet on our daily walks. And he still strains to look round every driveway and gate post, and under every parked car, anticipating the dangers he probably came across while he was on the streets. Indoors during the day, he sits on ‘squirrel patrol’, looking out, and barking at any squirrel who dares to climb through the trees at the end of the garden. He barks when pigeons sit in the trees taunting him, and even barks at trespassing blackbirds and blue tits! He loves playing with his ball, rolling it round with his mouth and cheek; poking it up the wall and catching it; losing it under a low shelf and laying on his side to reach for it with his paws. In the evenings he is just happy lying on my lap while I watch TV. Charlie is a very different dog to Brinny, and he does have some problems, due I’m sure to his time on the streets, but he is already improving; and with time, patience and love, I hope and pray that he will continue to do so. I’ll let you know how he goes!
I’m back again; not that I’ve truly been away, but ‘life’ has happened, as it so often does, and I’ve been away from my blog for far too long. Now I’m back again, no doubt over the next few posts I’ll put into words some of the things that have happened over the last couple of months.
In the meantime, autumn has come and gone. Winter is here, and what a strange winter it has been so far. Over shadowing, depressing greyness, rain by the sky-full, very wet, very muddy, and unseasonably warm. Before Christmas I spotted an urban roundabout completely covered with confused daffodils that usually don’t flower until well into February; had anyone told them they were a full two months early? I’ve spotted snowdrops and hellebores – not quite so seasonally out of kilter. And I have a sprinkling of pale purple anemones splattered across the sunnier borders in my garden.
Last week we had hail, like ice marbles, clattering and bouncing on roofs and pathways, enough to almost bury the patio. Then we had a couple of mild frosts, that have taken us by surprise, and unaccustomed as we are to the cold this year, made us feel that we’d been dropped into the Arctic! Then finally this morning, we awoke to a world dusted with an inch or so of snow – the first snow of a very peculiar winter. It’s almost completely gone now, and who knows if there will be any more.
At this time of year I would usually be looking forward to spring, and eagerly watching out for signs of growth, but this year I really feel that we haven’t truly had any winter yet. So over the next few days I’m hoping for some cold, frosty mornings, with a crackle underfoot, a bite and a sparkle in the air, and with bright clear blue skies; then I can start looking forward to spring properly.
Aren’t the autumn colours beautiful? The skies might be overcast and grey; but the brightness of the leaves make up for it! The leaves of the cornus or dog wood were some of the first to change, fading to dusky pink, and hanging on red stems, while most trees around were still green. Then was the turn of the maple in all its different varieties. Now the furry sumac branches are aflame with red and orange, and all the lower leaves are gone. The hornbeam leaves turned bright yellow, but most have already fallen, and next doors old Oak, who always holds on the longest, is at last sprinkling its crisp yellow-brown leaves thickly across the grass.