Amazing what Aged White can do. Paint, that is.
BTP (Before The Paint), the head of our bed backed onto the green and silver wallpaper that someone, somewhere, had imagined resembled vegetation. I looked at it and felt Ophelia-esque. As if I might drown in washable, two-dimensional weeds.
A regrettable side-effect of this placement of the bed, though, was the other view. A huge, home-made ‘fitted’ wardrobe. Four massive, sliding doors – two of them mirrored – filling the entire length and height of the wall.
Then, last week, following a therapeutic bout of demolition, a skip took away the wardrobe – doors and all. Now the room’s a calm, sort-of-white oasis. Free-standing, solid wooden furniture stands where we want it – on a new carpet.
A carpet upon which no cat has ever trodden.
I hate to leave it in the morning. Even more than I usually hate to square up to the world. Because we’ve turned the bed around and now the view is wardrobe-less and neighbour’s-garden-less. All we can see is fir trees. And the top of our fence.
My first cup-of-tea-in-bed-in-the-new-room morning, I sat back, ignoring the newspaper, peering up at the branches. Wondering why the wind was only blowing on one tree.
Then I saw it.
Zippy. The red squirrel.
The unwelcome grey, it seems, has so far failed to infect our red with the pox.
It’s been several weeks since our first sightings and Zippy’s fit enough to fight off an angry magpie. Zipping down the tree trunks stashing something – can’t make out what – on the ground beneath. Racing across the garden trailing a magnificent deep-red-wine-coloured tail behind its squirrelly-orange body.
The next day, back to work and we’re up before the sun …
As the pallor of day begins to creep through the inky gaps between the trees, the mist begins to roll. And rise. From the sea, which is not very far away, though we can’t see it.
Gone nine o’clock, the fiery ball in the sky makes a heroic bid for the day, painting dying leaves a honeyed gold as it tries to burn through the misty-moisty trespasser on its territory. But still, mere water vapour foils the sun god – obscuring the distance and the sky.
So, I shorten my focus and watch the birds.
One bossy male blackbird splashes around in the dish of water – while two more torment each other. ‘Whose territory is this, huh? Huh?’
I wince as a very small, fast finch flits onto the fence. Then others, so fleet I can barely see them – like the warplanes we saw at the airshow – but quieter. And more beautiful.
I have a bad feeling about this frenzy of aerial acrobatics. There’s going to be more kamikaze avian aviation.
The trouble with the pretty, tiny finches is that they tend to kill themselves on their headlong flights into our windows. Unlike the clumsy, chubby old Wood Pigeons.
A large WP has left the most amazing imprint on the balcony window. Like a stencil, much more graceful than the bird itself. It will have to go. The imprint, I mean. Though if the WP were to … Well, never mind. Though there are plenty of them.
I refuse to put up nets or stickers. It’s a price the birds will have to pay – I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is.
Our side of the bargain?
Attention. (Do birds have egos?)
A bath – frequently cleaned (though not by me). Some seeds in winter. A fat ball now and again.
A beautiful, sleek thrush lands by the water bowl. We’ve been seeing its plumage change. It’s gradually turning adult, the speckling clearer every day.
A rosy-breasted finch waits – not very patiently – for its turn in the bathroom, picking through leaves I haven’t yet tidied away.
Now the mist is reasserting itself. It’s crept in unannounced. No sound, no fury. As if the gods have been brewing a nice cup of tea with some enormous celestial kettle – and forgotten to switch it off.
The steam’s extinguishing the light, infiltrating everywhere. A sinister suffocation of the day. And the birds are turning into warriors. Finches and thrushes and blackbirds, dog-fighting it out in the air.
Which gives the robin its chance. He’s snuck in for his ablutions.
Oh, work, work, work. Why, why, why?
It’s no good. Bird world wins, every time.
But I suppose I ought to send an email to the one who has gone on the train, to work. To a 9 am lecture.
He needs to know. His tiny pumpkins that have, at last, turned yellow aren’t destined to grow any bigger. The little primrose spheres are scattered on the ground.
Nature. Fickle friend. And displacement activity, par excellence.