We are lucky that around where we live has so much green space and waterways. I love to wander along the canal with my pal Daisy, with her particularly favourite part being the cafe barge located near the canal basin, which has free dog treats prominently on display. Problem is, she doesn't realise that they are not solely for her consumption and can take some prizing away from the bounty.
Another favourite walk is down by Blackford Pond which at the moment, similar to the canal, is teeming with life. There are ducks aplenty, with various types, identified by their markings, sizes, colours and even behaviour. I am no ornithologist or waterfowl expert but the sheer numbers of water-bound families swimming on the pond could have held my attention for hours, had it not been for the beautiful act I was fortunate to experience.
The many breeds of duck were things of beauty, however, the aristocracy of the pond was undoubtedly the family of swans, adult male and female with six cygnets. The young still displaying their grey down, but with obvious signs of coming maturity as they neared adulthood. The entire brood sat just off the bank, far enough away from the threat of interlopers and other menace, especially pesky humans. However, near enough for the proud parents to show off their progeny to the world and boy were they milking it: mum, dad and the weans. Edinburgh Festival is making its comeback this year and to be fair the Swan Show
would fit in well with some of the other posers we are likely to see on the streets from the end of this week.
One of the adult swans was tasked with keeping patrol near to the bank of the pond, just to ensure that no-one or thing strayed too close to their precious cargo. Daisy is not so perceptive sometimes and although really just looking to make friends, she overstepped the mark and got that wee bit too close. However, she just as quickly stepped back when met with a loud hiss of warning from the sentry. It was on putting Daisy back on her lead that the magic happened. The hissing swan, still moving toward us, uttered what I am convinced was an approving grunt as it lowered its head ever so slightly as to be almost imperceptible. He/she was acknowledging my action and confirming to me that we were 'all right'. We had experienced the wonder of transcendence between the species in our communication and the world felt good.
It was with a spring in my step that I left the park and as we attempted to cross the busy road were met with a car speeding toward us. As we made the safety of the opposite kerb, I raised my arm, extended the index and middle fingers of my right hand, pointed them to the driver and screamed 'a***hole' as they disappeared into the distance. Not anyone's idea of serenity I know, but bloody satisfying.
One of my daughters-in-law, a professional gardener, called her roses 'drama queens' the other day as they flopped after a heavy shower. It was a loving reaction to the frailty of perfection. She knows her plants and nurtures them. They respond as plants always do to folk who have 'green' fingers.
Prince Charles has the reputation of being a plant lover and the gardens of his homes are lovely. He was given a hard time when it emerged that he talked to 'his' plants. Our future king, however, is not a gardener like us mere mortals. Like so many garden greats, he has minions who do most, if not all, of the tough, boring, bending and stretching, digging and raking. He may chat encouragingly but he won't be the one with arms scarred from rose thorns.
But, like my in-law, he is a plant lover and it shows in their response. Somewhere along the way, our plants sussed me out – and now it is showing. They seem to know that my attitude was not based on genuine affection and so they are making me pay.
As I stiffen, they flop. As we both head heavenwards, the delphiniums, lupins, peonies, and phlox, to name just a few, give a lurch then either assume the prone position or snap. The roses bloom briefly then litter the soil with layers of petals. Bamboo canes and metal frames are thrust into the ground. Twine is laboriously looped and bound to provide support. Water and fertiliser are applied vigorously. Briefly, the garden is a riot of colour. Next day, the leaf vacuum is charged up.
It just reinforces the truth of the adage that 'you reap what you sow'. I was never a real lover of plants and they knew all the time. Mind you, it could be worse. We have tried to garden in a green manner, avoiding lethal chemical bug killers. One of my less careful friends has a recurring nightmare... God is a greenfly.
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