Sprawled yet stiff-backed on the dining room couch, and sipping the morning’s first coffee, I’m staring out at our overgrown late winter back garden — all brambled tangles and tangled brambles, and general offseason disarray.
Signs of spring are piling in: darling buds on snaking, witchy-fingered new shoots, silky crocuses, snowdrops and daffodils lately sprung from their prison bulbs and pushed up through the incarcerating soil for their first apparition of sky, jewelled kiss of rain and buffeting sway of wind.
And just the other day, myself and Anne were sitting on this same sofa watching two Magpies going about some nest assemblage in that tree that will have rounded leaves like Judas’ coins when they come, and intertwined with that wonderfully reliable clematis which will have delicate light pink flowers like sticking plasters in April or May.
One bird stayed to build while the other swopped and dipped to retrieve another twig or piece and dart back with it to maker bird.
The busy bird couple and the knotted coils and jungled branches out there now are also reminding me there is work to do. Work I can’t put it off much longer now there is real air, brightness and regeneration out there.
Lily is perched on my right thigh, her ears twitching and flicking with every little chirp and cheep outside in the garden, and the kitchen and house sounds around her.
Both ears stand up in unison as the coffee machine does that splutter and whirr thing it does before the automatic shut down, and at the last fading down note the machine makes, Lily’s ears descend in perfect harmony, like an orchestra violin following the conductor’s downsweep baton direction.
I’m chomping on my breakfast cereal mix of Special K and granola now, and I notice when I stop, Lily’s ears adjust, and off I go crunching again, and her ears lift with the renewed eat beat.
And I’m thinking how I only think of Lily in my terms, her affection and the pleasure she brings me, and rarely about how the world might be for her.
How different her experience of this is to mine.
Like, you know those people who say they ‘see’ colour or that sounds have a scent, and some of their senses just work in less obvious ways?
Maybe it’s like that for Lily — sound waves break into rainbow hues, or perhaps those scents she spends minutes sniffing through on a shrub don’t just waft off reams of species information to her, but resonate in ways we can’t conceive of.
And it’s all normal to her. Her normal.
Maybe she is like the autistic person whose senses arrange and rearrange the world in ways unique to themselves, and others more like them.
And Lily looks up at me with those gorgeous brown eyes, and we intersect and connect at this inexplicable yet perfectly obvious point of mutual affection, love even.
And I’m thinking of that wonderfully crazy running circuit she has through the shrubbery when spring has really sprung and she careers like a mad thing in and out through the open patio door for a minute or more.
Even indoors Bella stays out longer in the garden on days like that, scraping daintily in old nooks and even deigning to engage with Lily for a moment or two when the younger one biffs into her to get her to play fight.
Even the couch we are sitting on is evidence of how much Lily and Bella rule the roost here in many ways in this home of ours.
Like the builder Magpie pair, Lily and Bella fashion their own nests, dragging down throws off the back of the couch, knocking down cushions, all to shape the cosiest little nooks you can imagine.
I’m writing in my little home office nest now, and oh, the light, the precious transmuting light that is bursting in through the shutter lats! The same light that now bathes the little L-shaped garden below in spring fervour.
And I step over to the window and I am looking down now on the tree where our Magpie couple are furnishing their new spring home, and I am treated to the spectacular sight of fetcher bird darting back and pausing a micro-second, mere feet from my window and me, twiglet in mouth like the dove of peace, all puffed up white chest, before descending down into the bustling tangle to pass on the latest fitting for this luxury abode.
And I look out beyond, on those sparkling wilderness acres that will soon be built on, as the latest phase of our estate will finally go up.
And I am more conscious than ever of the cheeps and churls of the birdsong coming from all over the sky, like bursting speech bubbles in a comic, and scruffy and neglected looking as these acres are, they have their own charm and chatter.
Those sounds will soon be replaced by the everyday hubbub of people and families going about their lives, just as we are here. This wilderness will soon be chopped up into endless rectangles of houses and gardens like our one, homes and habitats of bird, plant and flower, and endless reverie …
New Life … “Complicating, circulating
New life, new life
New life, new life” (Depeche Mode)
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