Watching and waiting



'I am holding my breath to see what will happen next. The kestrel, hovering almost stationary in the sky, looks like a child’s kite waiting for a gust of wind. His rudder-like tail twists from side to side as he holds his position above our field. The kestrel has keen eyesight and nothing escapes his watchful gaze. Then suddenly he dives, a russet arrow drops into the long grass of Oak Meadow. An unsuspecting vole has become the next delicious meal for this bird of prey.

Yesterday, I was alerted by a screeching sound, I have heard it once before, last year at this time. It is almost like a baby’s cry, so loud and urgent. I looked over the meadow to see two young kestrels dropping from the overhead wire onto the grass below. I think that they were vying for the same vole. They are competing and searching out a territory that only one can have. I was glad to see and hear them because kestrels are in decline now.

They were once a familiar sight on the roadsides as they hovered above the long grass. In the last few years, we haven’t seen as many over our neat and tidy cut verges. But this year, in Coronavirus days, some roadsides have had to be left to grow wild again. I wonder if we will see a comeback of the kestrel.

 Today, we are just into autumn, the equinox has gone and our hours of darkness are now getting longer than the daytime hours. But summer is not quite a distant memory. I am making raspberry crumble from our pickings and our vegetable plants are producing, though not at their usual rate. The beans and tomatoes are still doing well. Sadly, my spaghetti marrows are taking their time and I have fears that they will not have enough warmth or daylight to mature. I am watching and living in hope.

l am watching my lily too. It is in our fishpond – it comes long after our big pink and flouncy white ones have given their summer blooms. This one is a miniature and is understated and timid by comparison. It is a beautiful pale orange with tiny round leaves surrounding it. Perhaps it will flower soon because the buds are swelling. They are above the water now and I can see the sepals beginning to release the petals. I visit it every day in anticipation.

I have bought some bulbs, they arrived from my internet shopping yesterday. Their packets are cheerful with colourful pictures of tulips, irises and hyacinths.' I have planted them in pots already, and they are in our cool dark garage where they will stay for a few months. Then, if all goes well, I will bring them indoors to flower and brighten my day.

I am watching and waiting with bated breath, like many of us are these days.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)



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