Since TLM (The Loom Monkey) went off to uni in Durham I have annexed his room. MDB (My Dearly Beloved) now has a shiny new MAC and so the previous PC has been demoted and resides on a desk in TLM’s room overlooking our back garden and those of our neighbours. So whilst I surf around the web drinking a cup of Earl Grey or Chai tea and nibbling my breakfast I am also looking out on suburbia gardenia.
My immediate neighbour is paranoid and is certain that, under cover of darkness, tree & shrubs, baddies will creep up her garden and ……… who knows what. So their garden is open and bare of large blobs of vegetation. On the sawn-off trunk of one of the removed trees she has what looks like a bird timeshare chalet and a birdfeeder hangs from the sparsely-leaved, thin-trunked, high-canopied tree that is allowed to flourish. So our garden with its three coniferous but doctored giants and various badly behaved shrub/trees acts as Heathrow Airport and her sawn-off trunk stump is a heli-pad. Goodness know how many tribes of birds secrete themselves in the largest of our trees. We see our winged friends fly in and out but the feathery fronds of the branches are so much like an enormous stick of green candy floss (cotton candy) that we have no idea how many of them are in there at one time.
I always think of my mother when I sit here doing my individual census of what flies out of our green giant and on to next-door’s heli-pad. When I was about three and four years old we lived in a bungalow set diagonally on a corner plot with a back garden that measured a third of an acre (so I have been told). All along one boundary line was what I thought was a forest inhabited by witches and princes rescuing princesses from eternal sleeps and tall towers and everything that princes do. In daylight hours that “forest” was a haven for wildlife and my mother taught me the names of common British birds as they emerged from that sylvan paradise to visit us. Sparrow, robin, great tit, blue tit, coal tit, starling, blackbird, wren, wood pigeon, green woodpecker, jay, magpie, pied wagtail (little trotty wagtail). I’m sure we SAW all those but I have my doubts about the yellow hammer. Clutching my ladybird book of birds I was amazed that a bird would utter the phrase “a little bit of bread and no cheese” and I can still see the buff cover embossed with dark brown letters and illustration as it had lost its jacket due to being handled so much. So from my mother I learnt the names of birds. She also passed on the names of trees and garden plants. Nothing fancy just the ability to recognise that wonderfully slim dark green plant that spurts forth its tiny yellow star flowers in the middle of winter – winter jasmine and other regular residents in suburban gardens. I never realised what I knew till I came across school friends who had no idea what the stuff in their gardens was called. I also took it for granted that everyone knew how to make a white sauce even if it did come out lumpy. At least I knew that I should have kept stirring/beating it with a wooden spoon and g r a d u a l l y add the milk. I just took it all for granted while I was growing up and she was alive. Years later when I discovered that not only did some other women not consider their mother their best friend but even hated her it really struck home how lucky I had been with mine. MLD (My Little Darling) can be stroppy and her taste in music is a bit invasive at times but I like to think that there is a glimmer of how I feel about my mother that she feels about me.