At the entrance to the community garden I empty my compost bucket into the bin. Today I am not in a rush, and I stop and look around. They’ve been making changes in the garden and it’s more open. It’s easier to see the new raised garden bed with its flowering marigolds and purple crinkly kale. I walk along its length towards the shed, with three beehives on its roof. The bees are moving busily around the entrances, taking to the sky and disappearing. A movement in the old bath full of duckweed and branches lets me see one bee carefully balanced on the thick surface, drinking.
I am drawn deeper into the garden, drawn by mulched garden beds and climbing pea sprouts. A bay tree and a coffee bush, covered in berries, guard each side of the path. I go through them to the garden lots, each tended for better or worse. They form a narrow strip of optimism, their baby lettuces in rows, their tomatoes staked.
As I stand in silence, consumed by the sight of green leaves and brown soil, I hear a rustling. I track it to the back of an area newly overturned and composted, to a noise that becomes a pecking, a shaking of leaves. A small black head, still showing traces of baby grey-brown, bobs up and down, its neatly hooked beak worrying at a nugget of clumped soil. It extracts something – worm, beetle, sliver of decomposed meat – looks at me with satisfaction and gulps it down. It digs again, successfully, hops to one side and digs from a new direction, tossing aside rotted leaves to expose the soil and its morsels. Abruptly it looks at me again and flies off.
The song of the butcherbird is one of my favourites. I like to think that my compost was feeding that one.
Mark Dando said:
Beautiful writing about those moments of reflection when we stop and take the time to observe our surroundings. I particularly liked the garden beds forming ‘a narrow strip of optimism’ — sums up my experience of trying to grow veg.
Thanks Mark! It’s a rare joy to feel those moments of peace.
I love the butcher bird too Kathy.
Thanks Lyn! I don’t have the variety of birds here that I enjoyed in Gloucester. Hope it’s not too hot up there.