I was recently asked to bring to mind a safe place. Somewhere that made me feel calm, alive and soothed. Whenever asked a question like this previously, my mind automatically pictured a tropical beach scene. This time, however, I paused and considered what was relevant for me now – I pictured myself in my back garden, sitting in the sun on the pontoon that floats over the pond, watching the birds bathe and feed. The daffodils are flowering and the cherry is coming into blossom. Not only can I see the birds, but their song fills the air. This scene uses four of my senses which I believe makes it more liveable.
I have spent many hours over the past two weeks enjoying this scene from my kitchen window – not because I needed a mental ‘safe place’ but because the birds are just so beautiful. A pair of bullfinches, song thrush, goldfinches, nuthatches, robins, blue tits, wrens, chaffinches – there are just so many beautiful birds visiting the ornamental cherry tree – feeding off the tree but also on the black sunflower seeds and the niger seeds that I provide.
I had planned to spend time this week hard pruning the dogwood that sits behind the pond. It was planted by the previous owners and, while I have attacked it every year, it’s still relatively out of control and towers almost 3 metres high. The plan was to cut a third of the stems to ground level to provide stunning new red growth for the years ahead. However – the birds love it how it is and are often perched on the high stems drying their feathers after a bath. So, for their sake, I’ve decided to continue as I have in the past – controlling very lightly. It is their garden more than it is mine.
When I last visited my parents I loved watching the birds that visited their feeders, but was struck by the stark difference between their Australian experience and mine – out there the birds were huge – king parrots, rainbow lorikeets, galahs and cockatoos – birds that are totally in-your-face with their colours and their calls. In comparison our English birds are charming and dainty, infinitely more subtle but every bit as beautiful.