Wednesday, January 30, 2013
I have resisted feeding the birds for the last year or so. Their food is a magnet for rats (yuck) a creature I loathe. However the very cold weather had made me rethink. So I have subscribed to a couple of feeders and a large bag of sunflower hearts and some fat balls. The one absolute essential about birds is that when you start feeding them you absolutely must continue to do so until the insect and fruit levels are high again, such as summer, so that they dont lose their one source of food. It takes a lot of energy to find your food; it is a big waste of energy to turn up and there is nothing there.... The one thing I had completely forgotten about though is the wonderful characters that birds are. I so completely understand why people enjoy watching them. I have had a family of long tailed tits - my favourite birds. Little balls of pinky grey streaked black and white, and very long tails. Incredibly sociable they are beautifully behaved and love the berry and insect fat balls. The goldfinches are a different ball game altogether. Beautiful plumage hides a positively street fighter attitude. They take the sunflower seeds and then drop half of them on the ground. There is one who has such an attitude problem that it frightens all the others off. I dread to think what it is saying - blue language does not describe it. The great tits on the other hand, take one sunflower heart and fly onto a branch and then gently eat the seed bit by bit. And as for the blue tits, they come in en masse and then find out there is not enough room. Of course, the upside is that all this mess means that there is enough food on the ground for the robins, blackbirds, thrushes, hedge sparrows, chaffinches and sparrows. I have not had so much fun in years watching them..... such a distraction to work! And no sign as yet of the long tailed pest.....
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Okay I am going to have a rant....... How on earth in today's age can we have allowed Rickets to resurface again in children within the UK? Technically Rickets is caused by severe malnutrition (do you remember the pictures of the famine in Biafra with children with bloated stomachs and bent legs?) or a lack of Vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D comes from sunshine and is vital for the absorption of calcium. Ergo we need sun on our skins - too much sunscreen, and you block it - but first of all of course you need to get outside!!!! Are we so far gone as parents that we need to keep our children safe inside on computers, tablets and Iphones? Have we become so lazy that we have lost the ability to play; to take our children for walks? Have we become so obsessed with technology, with the internet, with 'e-games' that we have forgotten that our children need to interact with people and nature - not a wretched screen on a computer (she says as she types this on the internet). I find this fact deeply, deeply shocking. I get scared for our future as human beings. We have a responsibility to ourselves, our children, our neighbours and the environment. Technology is brilliant but it has a place. It does not teach us how to interact with real people; it does not teach us how to have conversations; nor how to behave. It most certainly does not teach us the consequences of our actions on other people. I dare say I will be shot down in flames for this blog, but I constantly thank God, or the universe, for the fact that I am lucky enough to live in the countryside; to know and to be able to observe the changes in the season. To know that the universe, our planet and nature are unimaginably huge, wonderful, terrifying, awe inspiring and often side splittingly funny. Even in cities it is still possible to look at the sky, walk in the sun and feel the fresh (ish) air on our faces. Sitting inside makes us smaller, somehow less, in ourselves. We lose the wonder of nature in all its magnificence. Sir David Attenborough brings much into our living rooms, but you cannot replace the intricacies and fun of observing our own particular take on nature in our gardens with a quick visit to the Galapagos Islands via TV. I still think that one of the most wonderful sounds on the planet is the sound of a small child laughing as they play. There is an all encompassing, gut wrenching, side splitting one hundred per cent joy in that sound, an innocence and wisdom beyond their age. I hope that we get to hear it more often and not less.
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
I read a blog today from a very observant man, who talked about the importance of 'listening' and to that I would add 'observing'. Our lives tend to make us impatient these days, full of opinions, and ideas. Many of us have lost the art of listening. As a designer, and especially in the context of therapeutic gardens, listening is all important. Listening to what the client is really asking for; the small item (and it usually is) that amongst everything else is the one essential, without which their garden has no meaning. The particular flower, the certain colour, the tiny momento of another time, or life (particularly in the case of brain injury). I often say that my clients are the designers - I just create with their thoughts. And listening is a huge part of that.
A very belated happy New Year to you all. And I feel that it is one. Despite the dreadful, dreadful weather. Looking at my November blog it was not much better around then either. But we did have a beautiful sunrise this morning, and spring is starting to stir, just in time for a winter blast. The catkins are already showing, some of my primroses are out, and I saw the first snowdrops yesterday. There are some plus sides with this weather..... (really). The water on the spider's webs is stunning; we shouldn't have hosepipe bans this summer; and many of my ferns have survived the winter - so far. But on a more serious note. How do people live in cities and keep sane when the weather is like this? At least we have the countryside to look at as we drive or walk around. In cities there is very little indeed, unless you have a back garden (and increasingly these are paved over); a park to look out on or a common. Certainly the elements do not have to be braved in the same way since you can walk from bus, train, taxi from door to office or shop and back again. But with this grey sky, grey light, and grey buildings I think that I would simply give up the will to live...... So despite the miserable weather, I would rather get soaking wet on a windy day sloshing through mud and puddles out in the countryside, then live my days cocooned in a grey city.....