Sunday, 29 September 2013

Michaelmas Day

After a really lovely St Michael's Day service this morning.  Good sermon, readings and singing.  We sang Cantate Domino very well indeed and finished the service quite pleased with ourselves.

It was a really beautiful day, the sort of day I feel should always mark this very important Saints Day.

The sun was too warm and inviting to ignore so I set about cutting back some of the Hibiscus and Buddleia  (avoiding that which was still blooming).

I became aware after a few minutes that there was a collared dove sitting a couple of feet from me on a Buddleia stump,  quietly eyeing my activities without fear or any apparent desire to fly.  So I went back into the house and collected my camera, sure that he would take off in a panic.

To my amazement he just sat there and let me get quite close before closing his eyes and settling down for a snooze.

When I had had enough and needed my coffee - around 1.30pm - he was still sitting there but flew off as I shut the back door.

The picture is not all that good but it is possible to see that my Michaelmas visitor was very relaxed.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

When is it Right to Interfere?

Waiting for the taxi to  take me to church this morning, sitting on the arm of a chair in the front window (I know, yet another bad habit), I found myself watching that least favourite of mine, a spider in the hibiscus making a very ornate web.

Despite myself, I found myself admiring the painstaking work going in to the web, and also the patience of this ghastly unfavourite creature.

Quite without any warning a huge bumble bee suddenly got caught and without a second's thought I leapt out of the house, whizzed my hands round and round the captured creature which was hanging helplessly by now and as it dropped to a lower branch of the shrub I pulled away a further thread.

Back in the house I could no longer see the bee but the spider was steadily working on its repairs, ready for the next unfortunate victim and I wondered guiltily if a, I had any right to interfere, b, whether the bee had survived, and last but not least, just how far human intervention should go.

Take this a step further and we are faced with situations like the one reported last week of the poor starved and tortured little boy who died so tragically at the hands of his own mother.

"Unthinkable", "How could anyone do that to a small helpless soul"  "Why didn't someone do something"?
Well the failures of all the individuals concerned, school, social workers, G. P. , are well documented and not for the first time, but this begs the question, why?

Surely not all those listed who saw various aspects of this child's ill-treatment, were afraid to interfere, somehow assuming that 'someone else' would report what they saw.

Is there then a culture of 'minding ones own business', to the exclusion of everything and everyone else?

How do journalists and photographers who go to film and record accidents, atrocities, violence on any scale, somehow contrive to reflect what is happening without becoming involved?

When does intervention become interference and what is it that prevents good, normal, kindly people from taking that step over the line.  Is it fear, indifference (surely not), embarrassment, I don't know, but there are serious questions here.  Does anyone have answers?




Thursday, 19 September 2013

An Embarrassment of Riches

Sometimes life is just so quiet, so boring, so .........uninterrupted that I need noise to reassure myself that I'm still here.

Other days are like today.

Normally Thursday is a household chores, odds and ends day and I see and hear no-one but the TV.

This morning washing in machine, paper-work well organised and coffee beckoning I thought.   "Two months or so since I last had contact with my brothers (I have three), wonder how they are"?

Sitting down with first coffee the phone rang - middle brother, "just wondered how you are?".

An hour later, a ring at door-bell, special delivery (shhh, a ring I had ordered via my favourite TV channel).

Lovely ring, duly admired and added to secret collection, I thought, time to resume house-work.  No, can't be bothered it can wait till tomorrow will watch "Loose Women", have lunch and relax.

Half way through the afternoon phone again - eldest brother "Long time no speak".  etc.

About three quarters of an hour later sitting in a once again silent house I thought how lovely it is to have the silence broken in such a perfect way.

We see each other very seldom my brothers and I, yet a couple of words into a telephone call and it's just like forty years ago.

Some relationships are worth cherishing even if slightly lengthy gaps link the conversations.

You can't choose your relations people say, but if I could, I'd choose the ones I have.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Goodness Gracious Me

Last week one of my neighbours gave me a large bouquet of white lilies.  She explained that she had received them with other flowers but was allergic to lilies and thought I might like them.

This was an uncomfortable moment for me.  I thanked her profusely, said how kind to think of me and took possession of the beautiful (horrible) things.

If that sounds ungrateful it is not.  I truly appreciated the thought, but wish it could have remained just that, a thought.

A lover of flowers, there is at least one exception to that and lilies are top of the list.  They are toxic to cats, every part of the lily from bulb to stem, from flower to pollen, and for this reason I dug up the ones in my garden some years ago, and never have them in the house.

Additionally, if the pollen falls on fabric it is almost impossible to remove the stain and I have twice had an 'instant colour change' to my clothes when throwing out the dead lilies from the arrangements in the church.

Lilies are just the tip of the iceberg though.

Constitutionally incapable of refusing something (unwanted), when offered in genuine kindness, I feel I need to learn how to refuse graciously and so as not to cause offence.

Someone I rather dislike asked me to have a coffee with them a couple of weeks ago and I was on that occasion able to say honestly that I had a prior engagement and had to run.

For once, I remembered not to say "but another time perhaps".  A fatal mistake and one which will return to bite you on the bum if you make it.

Since John's death I have made the acquaintance of the local bus and taxi services so well that I now have a well-organised network of transport for most of my needs, however, I am grateful for the occasional offer of a lift.

Unfortunately it seems that on the rare occasions when it is comfortably warm and sunny (not hot and humid), and I stroll out of the house early heading for the bus stop in plenty of time in order to enjoy the lovely weather, one or other of my neighbours will stop and offer me a lift.

Unable to refuse, I thank them and arrive before the door is open at my destination, wishing I knew how to say, "no thanks, I'd really like to enjoy the air for a while".

Conversely, when it is freezing or pouring with rain no-one ever stops and I get where I'm going wet, cold and fed up.

Truly I am not ungrateful for unsolicited good deeds, I just wish they occasionally matched my needs.

I'm afraid I don't know how to do gracious.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

A Bird for all Seasons

I heard it first this season, last Thursday morning, the unmistakeable sad sweet little song of an Autumn robin.

This is not the first time I've written about this particular harbinger of a new season.  Yes, I know I could have said omen, but I prefer harbinger.

Many birds change their songs as the season advances, but the totally different plaintive notes of the robin are so unlike the chirpy Spring song that they always strike me with a sense of melancholy, a sort of warning of things to come.

Since the Christmas card Winter robin is such a familiar sight we tend to forget that for these little birds it is not such a jolly season,but one where they are going to have to fight for survival.

They are well equipped to fight for their share of whatever is on offer, quarrelsome, argumentative, territorial little souls, but none the less, very small and to us at least, very appealing.

This morning, thick mist covering everything, but the promise of hot sun later, I heard it again.  Sorrowful, descending notes all but drowned out by the "football rattle" clack of a massive magpie, yet still discernible
and this time, accompanied by a sighting.   One very round very red-breasted bird and one equally round but much smaller and more speckled one with just a hint of 'tomato soup' colour on its breast.

Parent and child then.

My 'oh so poetic' musings were brought to an abrupt halt, by the appearance of three of the local cats, as fine a band of desperados as  you ever did see, stalking the little family.

I flung open the window, clapped my hands and suddenly the garden was empty.

Sans cats, sans robins, sans magpie.

My good deed for the day.   Do not expect another.