Does your mind wander while walking alone? Mine definitely does.
I happened to notice a blackbird nest along the path from our house. The birds were busy in the neighbouring trees collecting hawthorn and holly berries. They saw me approach and were a little cross that I’d stopped to watch them, they flitted around their nest, aware that I could make a move not to their liking. I decided not to linger for too long because I didn’t want to give them cause for alarm, they, I thought as I crept away, aren’t affected by a global pandemic, they are oblivious to our current human change in circumstance. I was not that much further down the path before I realised how silly, selfish and naive this concept really is. A blackbird faces the daily battle, from predation by cats, foxes and sparrow hawks, and then there’s the ticks and parasites attacking them at ground level and in their food chain. There is no vaccine available to help the common blackbird survive longer than his average 2.4 years, he survives on instinct, wits, good luck and good weather in the winter months. He manages to muster a chirpy, incongruous song, going about his business, guarding his patch, protecting his partner and his young during the warmer months…surviving. Would we notice if the common blackbird started to decline from our gardens and hedgerows? And yet so many other bird species are in decline and disappearing because of how we humans behave on this, our shared planet.
As I walked on, I began to think about how hard it would be to spend every day in survival mode. I was reminded of The song ‘Feed the Birds’ from the film Mary Poppins. ‘Come feed the birds, show them you care’ trills the bird lady who sits on the steps of St Pauls Cathedral selling breadcrumbs for tuppence a bag. This, is also a sombre reminder to Mr Banks when he passes one day to find the bird lady gone after he'd previously dismissed her and told his children not to feed the birds. Kindness spreads if we remember to care just a little. Our message to each other in recent years is to ‘be kind’ especially so during the season of goodwill where those less fortunate than ourselves, who, like the bird lady and my blackbirds are spending nights outside surviving on their wits.
This winter us Cobbett’s have put up extra bird feeders and planted our own Hawthorn tree, I’ve also donated some of the money that you’ve earnt from your hard work and given me in exchange for my hard work, to the Salvation Army and Oxfam. And for this I Thank you.
Now I must tear myself away from watching the bird feeders and get back to making embroideries in my warm studio. Apologies if Feed the Birds has now become today’s earworm!!