What should we do now?



What should we do now? The nights are drawing in. It doesn’t seem so long ago that I was sitting in the garden at 9 o’clock enjoying the slow dusk and watching the swallows overhead. Now, I am startled to look out of the window, after my evening meal, to find that it is already dark.

There has been much talk about what ‘isolated older people’ are going to do. Most of us have got used to gardening and now the dwindling daylight hours and colder weather will make us think twice about spending so much time out there.

There are increasing discussions, in the papers and on the radio, about the health risks of isolation for my age group. A contributor to one radio programme suggested that we could knit (!). I am not a knitter, and never have been, but my older sister is, she has already been to buy wool and patterns. The idea is that she will knit toy animals, perhaps for a charity. There is no easy answer, but we must find an interest.

One thing that is interesting, in the winter months, is the influx of migrating birds. I am already seeing flocks of fieldfares and redwings arriving from Scandinavia. They are looking for food and will eat our red berries and windfall apples.

Another traveller is the grey wagtail. It is like a shadow and if it didn’t wag its long tail so vigorously, I would not have spotted it amongst the wet stones. Every October it visits our bird pool and fishpond. It is looking for food and has come from higher land. This is just a stop-over and it will soon be on its way, to find a stream for foraging.

A small visitor, that I have not seen all summer, is the siskin. There are lots of them in Wales so it could have come here looking for treats on our bird table. It was fluffed up and shy, but with its black head and yellow and black striped back it was unmissable.

A bonus for me, is that I have great hopes for my spaghetti marrow. The first crop failed miserably. Now, I have a second set of plants. One is outside, one is in the cold frame and one is in the polytunnel. The first two fruits are about the size of a grapefruit. Time is running out for them. But the one in the polytunnel has pumped up like a balloon, with tight shiny skin, looking as if it is about to burst at any moment. It is cold to my touch and, unlike a balloon, it is as heavy as a big bag of sugar. The soil underneath has compacted into a cradle. I’m looking forward to eating my spaghetti one dark autumn evening.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)

The timid siskin cold and hungry - visiting our bird table today


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