Showing posts from December, 2009

A Christmas Story (of sorts)

Thursday was the last day of work. An early closure, coffee late in the morning, then home. Catch the train and start the final preparations for the big day. The train platform was almost empty. A train for the line I did not want had just departed, taking most of the passengers with it. Just a few people waiting for the Belgrave train, me included. I sat on a bench, thought about listening to some music, but did not. I just thought. It has, by almost any standards, been a big year for me. I noticed the old lady walking through the ticket barrier. Frail, but not broken, old but not yet without independence. She sat next to me, slightly closer than I would have expected, but I such is life. You can’t travel on public transport without pulling your personal space tight around you. But this did seem a little strange. Plenty of space, but she choose to sit close. Almost at once she started talking – “I’m only going one stop” she said “I have run short of my tablets”. “I used to walk” she s

A Growing Community.

I met somebody a few days ago who claimed he had never grown anything. He was referring to plants specifically, rather than a beard or a deep dissatisfaction with government action on climate change. Specifically, he claimed never to have grown a plant. I have to ask; what the hell did he do at school? Did he not have Mr. Freeman (who had already grown a beard) and the long succession of cuttings and graftings that thrived in the greenhouse, but did less well in the dark confines of a school locker? Did he not germinate seeds with Mr. Rix (who only eat plants and noting else) in Biology? Did he not grow flowers in the back garden to keep his mum happy? Listen to Percy Thrower on the BBC? Have pot plants at college – that’s plants in pots if you were wondering! Keep carnivorous plants as a marker of teenage angst? He may, of course, have lived in a high rise flat, with concrete views and grey vistas, with corporation gardens stripped of all but the most robust plants, where growing pla

Garden Variety Birds.

Much can be learned from a single phrase. When a person says “Did you see the report in the paper?” it is clear they assume you know which paper they mean. They mean their paper, the paper they read. And if they ask you about “the paper” they assume you read the same one they do. In this way much can be learned. Much can also be hidden in a single phrase. Many truths can be obscured, many understandings prevented. “Garden Variety” is such a phrase. It means ordinary, humdrum, unremarkable. We get birds in the garden – this in itself is unremarkable – so we get a variety of garden birds. But are they always Garden Variety birds? I think not. To view our garden birds as ordinary, humdrum and unremarkable is to miss the point. It cloaks those birds in a veil, a veil that needs to be lifted. Many garden birds are common in the extreme, they may seen banal because of familiarity. They are never noticed because they are always seen. They are the garden constants. Some birds are noticed beca

Things with Legs and Wings

“In JUNE Kipper lay on his back and watched as little things with legs and wings climbed the spindly grass and whizzed into the big, blue sky. “There are a lot more things with legs and wings than you would think”, thought Kipper.” That is from a wonderful book called “One Year with Kipper” by Mick Inkpen. If you are reading this and you have preschool children you should track it down and read it to them. People look for wisdom in all kids of places. Books especially. It gives the world a nice kind of symmetry that you can find truth in books of that make no claims to fact. Truth presented in a simple way does not have to be simplistic. Books like Kipper offset all the instances where others make sweeping claims to fact without any basis in truth. But a simple observation in a children’s book pointed me towards a certain set of thoughts. Coincidences abound. On the day after I read the Kipper book I saw a butterfly in the window of a clothes shop. It was early in the morning, a clear

Danger Up-Date.

There may be danger on the edge of town but dangers can be avoided, and threats averted. I first started watching this nest on the 19th of last month. Today (5th December) the chicks were sat on the edge of the edge of the nest summoning the courage to dive into the wild blue yonder. Balanced between security and fear. Instinct pulling in both directions, finally tipping the birds over, though fear and into the world. Less than 10 minutes after this picture they took off – not so much flying as plummeting – not flying, just falling with style! I suppose it gets worse from here. They are neither functional flyers nor competent runners; they may not make it through the night. Only time will tell.