Spring Fever

‘The city mouse lives in a house;

The garden mouse lives in a bower’

Christina Rossetti, ‘The City Mouse and the Garden Mouse’

 

A dash of brown caught my eye, up and over the garden wall. I watched and waited: a rodent of some description was on the move, building a nest among the masonry and scurrying back and forth to collect bedding. It was too far away to be sure and I’m no expert, but based on previous sightings, I’m guessing it was a vole.

During the winter, I found the entrances to one or two burrows in the lawn after snowmelt. (In fact, a neighbour became so fascinated by these holes that she suggested installing a camera to capture the occupants.) Now the weather’s warm enough for mowing and the grass is short again, perhaps the tunnels have been abandoned – after all, who wants to live rattled by lawnmowers – and the voles have opted for high-rise living instead?

Mouse or vole, I was impressed by the little creature’s industry as it dragged rose leaves the length of its body back to its hidey-hole. I was also secretly impressed by its lack of respect for boundaries: although it had made its home on my side of the stone wall, it kept nipping over into another neighbour’s garden to collect building materials. This particular neighbour has a very beautiful and ordered garden – and a notable aversion to rodents.

Try as we might, perhaps it’s impossible to prevent a little chaos creeping in; and maybe that’s no bad thing? The end of April and beginning of May are traditionally a time of celebration, of dancing and rebellion, fertility and Beltane fires, of waking energies and creativity on the loose…

When I inspected the wall where the beastie had built its nest, I found hazelnut shells crammed into the crevices, fragments of brown amidst grey. Evidence of life hidden in the heart of rock.

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The paperback edition of Down to the River and Up to the Trees will be available this summer. Watch this space!

freelance artist, oils, illustration, illustrator, freelance illustrator

Summer’s Here!

Last night we had the most spectacular storm. Woken by thunder, I climbed out of bed to watch the sky light up. After such a hot day, the heavy rain was welcome and in the morning the garden seemed a shade greener, the roses opening.

This is a glorious time of year, when everything’s growing. We have bumble bees nesting in the eaves, and the bird feeder is busy with fledglings. (I guess the feeder is the welcome equivalent of a takeaway for their frazzled parents.) One particular starling fledgling is so cocky he’s already tried to see off the resident woodpecker – who’s having none of it and jabbed him a lesson in waiting his turn.

Various projects of my own are fledging too: this new website and my book, Down to the River and Up to the Trees. Having recorded the audio version and corrected the proofs, I’m expecting printed copies of the book to arrive any day. It’ll feel a little unreal to hold it in my hands at last. But exciting!

In other news, I recently had a small exhibition of paintings and am now about to help my other half exhibit his handmade furniture at various country shows. So it’s a busy time of year, but a rewarding one… Time to take flight now summer’s here.