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Nature Watch




21.04.20 – Darrell Priestley

Squirrels are early risers. Early on Sunday morning, as I was on garden watch, checking out the interactions of the bird life from the hidden vantage of my bedroom window, a squirrel hove into view, moving fitfully as it lazily circumnavigated our back garden. Squirrels are pretty nonchalant animals; nothing much seems to phase them, maybe because they are so agile, moving eratically but quickly when required. In about forty seconds it had traversed the rear perimeter, along the top of the fence, up and over the garden shed, then up into the big tree, going from branch to branch, ever upwards at a constant 30 degrees from the horizontal, somehow finding a connection with a smaller tree and down again at the same angle before heading over to the neighbours to continue the assault course. Totally madcap, but fun to watch. And the funny thing was, although it was still only early, I now found the energy not only to ditch the plan to go back to bed, but to burst forth and take on the day.

Parks are fabulous places, aren’t they? And leafy lanes. The world outside your window is really coming to life this spring, making you want to get out there and in amongst it. Where the world was previously open, lockdown has made what was once ordinary seem suddenly amazing. Time now to peer into that hedge and see if anything is moving in the spiders web. You want real life entertainment, with no CGI, explosions or car chases? That’ll be nature, then.

I like to look out of my window into the garden when doing my morning yoga. If nothing else, I enjoy the plants and flowers, which now especially are giving me a real zest to nurture living things, which just makes me feel good. I’m growing some lovely plants, and it still amazes me that for all the mistakes I have made many of them not only survive, they thrive. This year, there should hopefully also be a decent food crop, from a modest space that used to be a flower garden. But it also feels like I am getting to know the garden birds better. In my morning yoga session, while balancing on one leg, a blackbird swooped down for a drink and spent a good wee while peering in, wondering how long I could possibly hold the pose before falling over.

This spring, even the space outside my back door feels awesome. Ordinary things, all of a sudden, are imbued with extraordinary qualities. It is remarkable the extent to which distancing, and not going out, is enhancing the senses, making fresh air seem fresher, though the big reduction in pollution undoubtedly helps, colours appear more vibrant, and people suddenly more interesting, even though we now greet them from noticeably further away than usual. For all that the times are strange, and sometimes a little disconcerting, with a little imagination it’s possible to find your eyes opening wider and your mind’s horizons expanding considerably.

If you can get past the discomfort that a change to your familiar life brings, this might be an excellent time to develop or renew your interest in things you have hitherto neglected, or been too busy to think about. There is a world outside your window, and it may reward you handsomely to endulge yourself deeply and take a long, thoughtful look, and perhaps even be glad you had the time.