Treasure is not always gold.
Inattention and carelessness risks the loss of the essential.
I sit in the middle of Colchester, people watching. A father and son stop, the father abandons the son on the sidewalk to enter a shop to gamble money on a horse race. The son is about 3-years-old and calls for his father, he tries to push against the shop door, but it is too heavy.
In my imagination multiple dangers lurk, the boy could be abducted, the pushchair could roll into the road into the path of a car, or the child walks into the road with the same result. I dislike intervention, so I watch and wait. The father eventually leaves the shop, the father-and-son go on their way. The unwise father is oblivious to the precious treasure he risked the loss of by leaving his son on the sidewalk alone as he pursued the fools delusion of treasure won on horse races.
All things have their place of belonging.
My early morning alarm clock.
I was camping in the garden this morning, I awake by the banging of a fence, then something heavy lands on top of the tent, then the animal heads noisily for a nearby tree. My organic alarm clock is next seen on top of the shed as I irritably stick my head out of the tent to glare at the pigeon. Time flies, I slept through the night without waking. It is before 7am.
I water my three oak saplings, the curled leaves firming like the sails of a windmill in the early morning sun. I water ten pots of soil, the invisible locus of ten acorns that I despair may never awaken.
I find the container for a bird bath, fill it with water and place it on the bird bath. All things have their belonging, the container and bird bath are once more reunited after a long absence for enjoyment of birds. I reunite random scattered pots together in their collective home.
It is crazy that one is so happy about fox poop, but the evidence near the oak saplings tells me Amber the fox is around. I am working out if a location behind the fence is a fox burrow, a tennis ball is at its entrance, a fox chew toy? I placed a digestive biscuit at the entrance yesterday to see if it would vanish, the biscuit appears to have gone. To be certain I place two more digestive biscuits at the entrance, I will wait until tomorrow to see if these too will vanish**. Perhaps Amber has found a place of belonging behind my fence. I crush a third digestive and scatter it on the grass, the birds seem delighted.
** I wrote this article yesterday, the two biscuits vanished in the night when I checked them this morning.
Life is only in the moment, why waste life?
You are like a beautiful rose, but like all roses your bloom will fall away and you will die.
There is a vase of roses and lilies behind the laptop as I write this which are showing the signs of their last bloom. I purchased the flowers for someone two weeks ago, and they blossomed over those two weeks to a magnificent perfuming bloom. The flowers are dying now, a reminder that all things are temporary and impermanent.
In nature I see life and death happening all the time. I see the broken egg-shell, discarded remains of a new life that has entered this world, the mother bird dumped the shell away from the nest to keep the nest clean. I see the dead bird the cat Helix dumped on the kitchen floor. I see in the garden under the lens of my camera the bloom of flowers of one species, which a time later dies away, replaced by another species of flower. Nature reminds me of that harsh truth that I shall die, the hidden blessing to live each moment of life.
Two stories in the media expresses how fragile life is: a baby which went to sleep in its fathers arms died suddenly in its sleep; a ship sinks in South Korea, a student sends their last text message: “This might be the last chance to say I love you.”
Nature provides a dramatic theatre if only people can see it.
I witnessed a dramatic moment of natural theatre as a blackbird mother protected her young against a giant magpie. Only I saw this free theatre, the rest of humanity was blind to it.
It is a beautiful place in this Colchester square, the great water tower to my right, the Mercury Theatre in front, the many restaurants to my left. Upon this seat, near blinded by the sun, a hot laptop, and another free wi-fi point, I take a temporary rest to enjoy a moment in the sun.
It is the Easter holidays, and many people parade past me, the children with their parents. I like people watching, but I also have the sense of nature around me. Sadly most of these people who walk by me live in a different world to me, they live in a world of facts, figures and material concerns, they are blind to the nature around them. It is a blessing that I stand between two worlds, like the statue of Mercury who proudly runs atop the Mercury Theatre. I see both the mundane world of humanity and the organic world of nature, both worlds wash over me like waves of the sea.
Nobody but I saw the battle that came about behind my seat. The sudden commotion of a chattering female blackbird as a magpie appears. There is a dramatic moment as the blackbird dive bombs the magpie that is twice its size, the magpie flees. The theatre for humans in front of me, the theatre of nature behind me. My intuition tells me there is a nest nearby, the eternal story of the mother defending her young.
Can you love a wild animal?
Amber the fox, happy to just be.
Do you remember a special event, perhaps a birthday? Are you excited when you anticipate the event, and if there is a mystery, even better? It is the same for me these last few mornings, will I see her again? I speak of Amber the fox who adds to my excitement of getting up in the morning.
I think I am in love, if that is the right word. Can you be in love with a fox? It has only been the last few days the elusive creature has stayed around long enough for me to observe and photograph her. My friend thinks Amber is pregnant, so my imagination sees fox cubs running around my garden in a few months.
I love the floppy ears of Amber, her pensive sad and shy eyes. She is beautiful in a sort of magical way, fragile, naïve and caught between trust that she is safe and the wary nature of a creature living in a dangerous world. She desires the warmth of the sun rather than the cold darkness of her den situated I think behind the garden fence.
Since the two days I photographed her sitting in my garden, I look out for her. Yesterday she was not there, and I felt a twinge of loss. I saw her today sitting amongst the fallen branches of a conifer tree, watchful, that same enchanting expression. I feel her fragile presence, something small in the vastness of the universe, insignificant and tiny against the multitude of enemies arrayed to destroy her. If it is true that she carries fox cubs, it adds to the enchanting mystery, something waiting to manifest into the universe, little fox cubs that may one day play in my garden.
Concentrate on what is essential, nothing lasts.
Busy people running in circles, fail to see the essential in life.
As I sat in Colchester Castle Park I noticed a 3-year-old boy and his mother passing by. The boy in delight pointed to a spiderweb, but his mother busy with a smartphone ignored the boy. Many times the boy mentioned the spiderweb, and each time the mother ignored him.
Forty years from now I doubt mother or son will remember this spiderweb incident that I record. I doubt even if the mother will remember what it was she was doing on her smartphone at the time. It could be that the mother was dealing with an important matter on her smartphone when her son drew her attention to the spiderweb, but often as is the case with smartphones it was a trivial issue. What matters was an opportunity lost where mother and son could have shared a magical moment of delight in a spiderweb, a moment that could have stayed with the mother as a magical memory into old age.
Impermanence is a fact of life, nothing lasts, thus the smallest moments shared like between that mother and son become like treasure, sadly wasted to worthless distractions such as Facebook updates via smartphone.
The fox returns and I give it a name: “Amber.”
I have now called the fox in this photograph “Amber.”
The fox returned to my garden this morning, perhaps taking a liking for the warm sunny spot it enjoys sitting in. I have named the fox Amber, and it allowed me to take more photos of it.
The fox reminded me about a blog post I wrote more than a year ago about a book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery called “The Little Prince” which has an encounter between the prince and a fox on the subject of friendship. I purchased the book today described as follows:
“The Little Prince is now a legendary character, the symbol of a humanity that is responsible and generous, bringing a message of hope and fraternity, emblem of a spirituality that seeks out the essence of things, that which lasts, that which gives meaning.”
The cycle of life and death in nature.
A storm killed the parent tree last year in Colchester, its children live on.
In October last year I wrote about the loss of my soul mate an oak tree called the “Castle Tree” killed by a UK storm. I rescued thirteen acorns from around the fallen tree, planting them in pots hoping that I could salvage something from the death of the tree. In the last few days three oak saplings have appeared in the pots. I have witnessed the cycle of death and life via the “Castle Tree” and its children.
Small changes have major impacts to an ecosystem.
This tiny UFO on the ground is a rare glowworm. Nobody knew these glowworms existed in Gosbecks in Colchester until I discovered them by chance. Glowworms will benefit from street lights being switched off in Colchester; they also prefer long grass, so people impact glowworms when they cut the grass.
A report revealed that noise can impact both plants and animals, changing the entire ecosystem they inhabit as a consequence. My town of Colchester can no longer afford the electricity for street lights, so they turn most of them off at night, which is a boon for wildlife, because artificial lighting impacts their natural cycles; the local rare glowworm population in Colchester will benefit.
Introduce a new cat into a garden and there will be an impact upon the local rodent and bird population, and a knock-on impact upon plants and animals related to the rodent and bird activities. Even the local cats change due to the new felid addition, changing the behavior as a result, which impacts everything else they interact with.
When much of the agricultural land in the UK is a desolate wasteland thanks to European rules many animals and plants suffer, bees starve. Ironically the love of the British for their gardens offer a refuge for bees and birds who might otherwise starve in the countryside. Grave yards, railway and motorway embankments undisturbed by humanity become the new homes of every refugee plant and animal.
I hope that one day my definition for sustainability: “action in harmony with nature,” is universally adopted and then implemented in all decision-making.