Clear the ducks!

Visiting mallard

We get lots of birds in the garden, particularly since we’ve had the bird feeder. Blackbirds, sparrows, chaffinches and wax-eyes look out for the hens’ food too, coming down for wheat and other treats on the lawn. The chooks don’t seem bothered and they all happily peck away together – although observing a kind of social distancing. Blackbirds and sparrows drink and have baths in the water trough. Some venture into the garage at times where the hens’ food dishes are put to discourage scavenging, and the chooks don’t turn a feather. However, when seagulls fly overhead the hens go still and tilt their heads upward, necks extended, on alert.

Perhaps the number of birds can be explained by the fact that spring is the season for lots of birds to be about. It’s hard to say, since I was away at work during the day last year – and we didn’t have chooks then. And we no longer have either a cat or a dog to make the birds nervous.

A couple of ducks landed on the roof with a huge thump a couple of weeks ago. One flew down onto the lawn and was quickly seen off by a very indignant Popcorn who fluffed herself up and raced at it at full speed.

This morning, a female mallard was on the lawn. She had attractive white scallop shapes on her brown feathers. Dora and Popcorn seemed unperturbed. However, when she walked along the deck, Dora hid behind me, pecking at the sheepskin on my slippers as if urging me to do something about this outrage. (This is all anthropomorphic interpretation, of course.)

The duck came closer.

Dora gave up trying to get me to do something, and advanced towards her, at which the duck turned and walked back along the deck, then down onto the lawn.

I tried a bit of clapping and shooing, half-heartedly, with no effect. It’s not easy to be taken seriously when you’re wearing pyjamas and fluffy slippers. (Or to take early morning photos without the phone cover getting in the way).

Popcorn seemed to be ignoring her.

Duck and Popcorn observing social distancing.

I began to think that they had developed a tolerance for all the birds who visit, including ducks. However, later I saw from inside the house that the duck had taken things a bit far by going towards a favourite part of the garden and both hens rushed it at once. The duck flew clumsily up, turned and landed on the garage roof where she walked up and down briefly before disappearing over the roof tops.

Winter delights

Wee Jock, in the best fire-side chair, visited for 4 days.

Our winters are not severe, although they are tough for many people and we all look forward to warmer days. Where most of us live here, we’re not knee-deep in snow or suffering through long dark days and months, as in Scandinavia where they suffer consequent mental health issues – perhaps why Sweden hesitated to impose an early lockdown when spring had just begun.

Today there is a frost but, as the pattern goes, it is followed by warm sun. There is something to appreciate, even on a dull day. Yesterday was cloudy and cold, so we lit the fire earlier than usual, ate kumara soup and read our books. Outside the weather went from cloudy to stormy to rain with a bit of ice in it, to clear and even a bit of watery sun in the late afternoon.

I appreciate the warmth of thick woollen clothing which I couldn’t bear the thought of wearing in summer. My wool duvet, wool pillows and wool mattress cover are fabulous in winter – and summer (with one less layer of duvet). I am able to wash and hang my woolly socks and merino tops outside on the line – especially on a day like today.

Thank goodness that we are able to socialise (let’s hope it lasts). Meals out, card games and walks are great to keep my spirits up and keep me connected with friends. And between-times there’s blogging, emails, texts and phone calls – and, maybe, delightful news. Speaking of news, there’s always something thought-provoking in the daily newspaper I collect from the gate each morning.

Our Christchurch City Libraries are perhaps the best thing about our city. They are a connection point for everyone and a warm place in winter. There’s something magical about coming home with a pile of books. Walking home from the library last week, I was delighted to see the Town Hall fountain working again. I sat and enjoyed it for a while.

The Ferrier Fountain lifts the winter blues.

Over the last couple of months I have found myself taking the odd photo of something cheering. Here are some creative delights I’m enjoying this winter.

The garden is a changing source of delight.

Winter delights show me that there’s always something cheering in the cold, dark and dreariness, particularly as I have the luxury of time to appreciate it.

In the late afternoon, there’s the possibility of a contemplative winter cocktail and The Panel on National Radio.

A ‘wobbly knee’ (whisky, green ginger wine and lemon) and RNZ National.