Today I have had a quiet day, quiet and still and mostly outside in the vivid green of May sunshine. It has been a frantic few weeks with change on the cards for both my father in law, who has moved to a residential home nearby, and for my father. It has also been my father’s eightieth birthday, celebrated with an afternoon tea party in the village hall in Devon where my sister lives, crammed to the gunnels with family and friends. There has been much visiting and much whizzing up and down the motorway. It is too early to tell how these new arrangements will play out. Time will tell.
But today Ian went into Manchester to work on elder son’s new house and there was nobody here but me, a garden full of birds and the blowing sun.
I sat for a while in the side garden with a cup of tea and the unopened newspaper on my knee.
In the trees behind the garden a heavy woodpigeon flapped to and fro, repeatedly crashing back into the top of the tallest conifer with all the grace of a small bus. A blackbird came whizzing over my head in a silent, graceful swoop with a beakful of worms. Sparrows dipped in and out of the hornbeam hedge. In front of the house the swallows have spent all day throwing themselves around in great arcs above the stone pigsties, seemingly chasing each other, swooping and diving only six feet or so away from me so that I could see the sun glistening on the flying arrows of their blue-black wings. There were three, apparently playing together, flying for the sheer pleasure of the acrobatic dive, hurling themselves at the bakehouse roof and pulling out of the dive at the very last moment to skim over the ridgetiles and back up into the blue. Yesterday there were flying ants in the garden and I watched the swallows purposefully cleaning up. Today the ants are gone and I could see no reason for the wheeling and whirling and riding the air. It was all too fast for my camera.
I wandered around the garden and remembered belatedly to visit my tree, a little rowan which stands in the hedge up by the shepherd’s hut. Last month the rowan was resolutely bare but it burst suddenly into leaf three or so weeks ago. Take a look at all the other trees through the links on Lucy's blog.
There are bluebells and stitchwort at its feet. The rowan at the bottom of the field is in full creamy flower but this one up here catches the wind and is a couple of weeks behind. The densely packed flower heads are still green and barely visible against the foliage.
I worked in the cutting garden for a couple of hours, digging out the couch grass and creeping buttercup which are trying to take back the beds which we have carved out and return the land to field. I wonder how long we will need to take out these and the docks and dandelions which gleefully colonise any bare soil before we get to the stage we have in the side garden where there is little weeding to be done. It might be more time than I have got.
It is so long since I have had one of these days to myself that I had half forgotten how the peace of the place seeps into your bones, like the warmth of the sun. Now I am ready for company again and for Ian to come home. Do you like time to yourself and if you do, what do you do with it?