The joy of following the sequence of blossom from blackthorn and damson, through cherry, pear and quince to culminate in the magical explosion of apple blossom, never palls. A beauty which is so fleeting and ephemeral, but which is also filled with the promise of a rich harvest of fruit. The tiny cherry plum or “mirabelle” is an early bloomer and was a favourite with my late father, the anniversary of whose death, falls in early May. Seeing the cow parsley in the hedgerows and verges takes me back to that time, while the quince blossom reminds me of my maternal grandmother, May, who made quince jelly from her own tree and whose birthday was May 15th. Many birthdays, once significant, have faded from my memory, but October 1st, with ripening fruit on these same trees, marks the birthdays of my father, my grandfather and now my elder grandson, Jacob.
Musical birdsong has been the soundtrack of my life in recent weeks and the Concise Guide to Birds, a present from my friend Jean, has been in constant use with grandchildren learning to recognise the birds on the bird feeder. The woodpecker is a regular visitor and as well as many types of blue tit, we have seen tree creepers and nuthatches enjoying the peanuts. Swallows are swooping in and out of their nesting places in the wooden rafters of the garage, making a loud racket and scattering their droppings everywhere. There are several nesting boxes attached to trees and posts, but the box made by my granddaughter has been chosen as the perfect place to bring up a family of tiny blue tits. On a poignant note, I found a dead blackbird a few days ago and since then the surviving spouse has been sitting alone on the roof of the house – singing to beat the band.