It rained the last two nights.
The squirrels knew it was coming, writhing their sleek bodies out, full-length beneath the lowing sky, like warmed snakes on the dry lawn, before flipping breezily onto their chestnut brown backs to scratch. Long-digit limbs all briefly akimbo then jerkily righted to hop and hurdle back to the bird feeders. I treated the squirrels to monkey nuts. They went wild and ran amok. Half a dozen furry friskies, full of beans, frantically – recklessly – planting peanuts in tulip pots, chimney pots and – most impertinently – in my carefully sprinkled, gently pressed seed trays of quietly germinating garlic chives and Love-in-a-Mist. Lust-in-a-blur.
The excitement spread. A pair of magpies performed, for each other only, a hummingbird dance of such impressive iridescence that even the lone expeditious mouse, usually only vaguely glimpsed as he darts behind the leaning lid of the old rusty tool box, where spent minnows are dying back to cloak soft, young violas in light rain hoods, halted and hearkened.
The precise location of Mini-Murine’s nest remains a mystery to me. He follows a familiar, low-level route which I only ever attend to when he finds himself stuck – once again – between the same gabion and plant pot that he found himself stuck between before. Yet again. That whole area is so heavily planted – and frequently watered – that I can’t fathom how a nest could possibly stay dry there. The most obvious, alternative, nesting site is a nearby, deeply excavated hole at the base of the curved wall, anhydrous and dusty, below the thirsty, raised privet hedge. The narrow cavern is only twenty or so feet removed from the pot-gabion-squeeze-space but it is separated by what, at mouse scale, amounts to a dangerously exposed, rocky shore of river pebbles. An inland diorama of Flamborough’s North Landing. A rocky place I clambered yearly as a child.
The fir tree is the lighthouse. A sagacious beacon in the half-light. Flourishing bright, long-lime tassels and fringes upon a lush, monochromatic, refulgent robe which – naturally – verdantly eclipses even Joseph’s amazing coat. The best we can think of is already long-bettered. In the morning haze the fir’s brightness is more akin to knowing.
The once vibrant tulip petals are paling daily. Shrinking, curling and falling to reveal sticky, maze and spoke-topped spires leaning, unclothed toward their memory of the afternoon sun. Fading into the comforting hues of the watercolour pansies. Powdered pigments, more opaquely gouache, drift through the birch beds towards the shorter-trunked, longer-limbed crab apple tree. Primroses and bluebells. The deepest tones are preserved within the leaves of the marmalade heucheras, their wavy margins more ‘Summer in Wonderland’ than ‘Windsor Gardens in Spring’. Less orange-shred-jelly, more hot jam bubbling in tarts fresh from the oven.
I took a short stroll in the light drizzle to twist seven stalks of rhubarb off Victoria’s crown. And to right the little seed pots, upturned and ransacked by the squirrels. Sunflower seeds destined to grow into an Autumn banquet of striped, ripe seed-heads but imprudently snagged by the scurry. Along with liatris bulbs, dahlia tubers and anemones.
Almonds. Ginger. Cinnamon. Rhubarb crumble.
I love the smell of green after rain.