Out and about with Zeb and Lulu there are buttercups everywhere, pale pink wild roses and hawthorn blooming, clover and hogweed, dandelions and buttercups, the usual parade of summer white frothy stuff and yellow frothy stuff in the parks and meadows, the bluebells were very early this year and the wild garlic has vanished back underground once more. The leaves are becoming less translucent and more opaque by the day as the tenderness of May gives way to the humidity and high sun of June.
Our cities may overrun the countryside and even though we live in an extremely built up little corner of the world, still the seasons change, the days lengthen and shorten. A plant, a colour, a scent of wild blossom sidling past on an abrupt breeze triggers all sorts of memories in this intense Spring month, heady with desire and passion yet tempered with sorrow for people who are bereaved or suffering.
As one gets older, one’s personal diary of memorable dates gets ever fuller with birthdays and deathdays. Sometimes it seems as if every day is a day of Remembrance; and I yearn wistfully for the days when June simply meant that you didn’t have to wear a coat to school and you could stay up later and play longer outside as no one had noticed that really it was past bedtime.
The above photo is a row of ladybird eggs, shiny and ovoid. I watched the parent set these on the underside of this garden frame; by the time I came back with my camera, she had gone and was resting on a piece of old wood nearby.
In June in the Northern Hemisphere the nights are short and the days are elongated, drawn out on a blackbird’s song. In our suburban garden Mr Blackbird is ever delighted when one of us cuts the grass, making it easy for him and Mrs Blackbird to root up worms.
Mr Blackbird’s delight in bathing in the bird spa overrides his anxieties about marauding sparrowhawks and amoral chick-snatching cats, and he still finds time to throw the water everywhere in a flurry of black feathers and sparkling drops and it is enchanting to watch.
Today however, he is perfecting his cross garden dive and swoop, I think he is modelling himself on Tom Cruise in his youth. His two babies are out and about in the garden and finding the big world a bit exciting. One of them found the spa, perched on the edge contemplating its inch of water with total fascination for about five minutes and then plumped down exhausted after all that thinking.
Mr Blackbird is extra vigilant, singing triumphantly from the spine of the garage roof, tumbling off the top of the house and skimming over the lawn. Watching and singing, shouting when necessary, sometimes I wonder when he sleeps. I can hear him now as I type, alarm calling about something.
We had a drama earlier in the week when a baby jackdaw from the chimney colony next door launched on her maiden flight and landed in a pile of wood and plastic pots being amassed outside the garage on its way to be recycled.
There was a streak of curly fur as the poodles whizzed past to see what had landed, barking like nutters (not behaving perfectly like in the above picture where they were allowed into our favourite coffee bar to watch us eating pecan pie) I may add.
Ms McJackie squawked and fled into the shrubs pursued by the dogs of hell. Eventually we extricated the hellpoodles and shut them indoors and Ms McJackie who by this time was clinging in a ‘I’m nae going anywhere and I want Mammie!’ sort of way to the ornamental vine was encouraged to attempt to fly up and back to the rooftops where the Clan McJackie (twenty strong) were all cracking out encouraging words, “Come on up here, wee lassie, ye can do it!!!” “Aye, we’ll share our chips wi’ ye, get a move on!” “Take nae notice of those dogs, away back to the rooftops!”
This is not the time of year to go out in our garden if you want peace and quiet. Coupled with the sounds of half a dozen neighbourhood kids bouncing and shrieking on the trampoline set up in the back lane, the hum of DIY as neighbours saw up things and drill things and cut things… I go back indoors for peace and talk to the seedlings who are desperate to get out in the garden and take the snails and slugs on head to head, or mouth to mouth.
I tell them ‘No,not yet, grow a little bigger, build up some bitter tastes in your leaves, give yourself a chance, where’s the rush?” I have the upper hand as they don’t have feet but this one has little subdividing hook-like claws that grab my clothes when I walk past as if trying to hitch a lift.
And finally I observe the neighbourhood cats who aren’t really that exciting, doing what cats do no doubt all over the world, but there is a lack of cats on this blog so this is a small attempt to redress that balance.
Ginger Cat is one of those cats who has four homes. One neighbour has said he is most definitely their cat as they pay the vet bills. Ginger Cat is frequently spotted in a variety of front windows, smirking gently to us as we walk by. “Yes I live here too, everyone adores me, and everyone feeds me, so do I need you?!” Ginger Cat spends many happy hours yowling “This is my patch, mine, mi-ine all MINE, and I am going to SCWEAM and SCW-EAM until you go away or I will rip your tail off!” He also falls off fences and is fairly useless at catching birds so we just roll our eyes and look the other way for the most part.
There is also Large White Cat who has recently appeared out back. He is bigger than Ginger Cat and there is an ongoing argument going on as to who gets to sit on which wall and glare longest. “You”ve had it your own way far too long and now you’re going to have to move over!” Ginger Cat replies “Go on make me make me!”
And finally we still see No Tail; presumably someone has already ripped his tail off in a previous battle, the older cat who travels miles for the privilege of having Brian squirt him with water when he chases the garden birds. He spends a lot of time hiding under cars, playing Car Roulette. Doesn’t say much, keeps himself to himself.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need some toast and a cup of tea. And then another walk of course. Have a lovely Sunday my friends!
PS The beetle on the buttercup – we’ve looked it up and it is an Oedemera nobilis. Described in my Collins British Wildlife Book as follows :
Distinctive little beetle, body is shiny green and surprisingly slender. Elytra taper and splay towards tip of abdomen and do not completely cover wings. Male has distincitve swollen hind femurs. Seen May-August. Common and widespread in S England and Wales. Favours grassy places and visits flowers to feed on pollen.
That’s my boy!