Grace is all around

De Facto


Lockdown’s gift is the time to notice

De Facto
Liamy MacNally

Lockdown has afforded us all more time to observe. We slowly realise that God is not somewhere but everywhere. We are a little more finely tuned, unlike my beloved garden, ‘owned’ by others. It is a land of borders, boundaries and frontiers. Every creature has its own awareness of my garden as its territory. It is the space they need to live in peace. If another strays into the region then it can mean war, retreat or just plain sex. Strange bedfellows but that’s the reality!   
No small bird will dare to become part of the crow ‘murder machine’ to compete for the porridge oats. The Uzi-sounding magpies, growling in their grating tone, are signs that someone is bouncing into their territory.  
Once the crows are driven away by yours truly it signals the return of the dunnock, chaffinch, blue tit, great tit, coal tit, sparrow, robin, blackbird, reed warbler, bullfinch, goldfinch, collared dove (with one offspring we call Dovely), thrush and a few more. They co-exist with just an occasional ‘clip on the lugs’ from blackbird to sparrow.  
My preparations for bonfire night – St John’s Eve – were upended. The pile of briars, wilting under the glorious lockdown sun and awaiting the bonfire match, had become home to dunnocks who decided to raise what can only be a second brood. The four beautiful blue eggs caught my eye as I wondered why there was such a kerfuffle as I worked around the briar pile.
The briar pile is still in situ, as is the nest with the first scaltán emerging on St John’s Day. Head and platter spring to mind! This has thrown my gardening plans into complete disarray. I now still have ‘junk’ and the area I cleared weeks ago has been rejuvenated with baby briars! It seems as if I have nurtured a briar nursery. I must be a Godsend to them, an extra-terrestrial saviour, literally!
Rua, the fox, frequently uses this area as she scampers with her mouth full of food from the food bowl left out for her. Her two cubs have joined her of late. I’m not sure of their gender so suffice to say that the twin cubs are currently known as Pete and Repeat. They seem less afraid than their mother, as they watch me watch them from a shadowed kitchen.
Another lockdown feat is that the house is painted. This is the first time so the professionals were to hand. From dismal shades of virgin grey it now boasts brilliant white. The faded red front and back doors have been refreshed in a colour I don’t know the name of but it’s nice! Herself!
Meanwhile, my heavenly stare continues for my favourite bird, the swallow. They have been so rare with way fewer numbers than last year, which also didn’t support great numbers. Even now in high summer their numbers are more like mid-September. What happened? The trip from Africa to the west coast of Ireland must have more dangers than usual.
The house martins are here, again, not in great numbers. That didn’t stop a couple using the freshly painted front wall for target practice. There’s nothing more annoying than a streak of fresh ‘bird turd’ streaming down a newly painted white wall!        
Of course they also took a liking to the space between the top of the downpipe and the fascia. They have never lodged here before. The real boss decided that they be redirected to the swallow homes in the shed. The swallows didn’t use the shed last year or this year so there’s plenty of room and a few old nests. The new shed door, a freshly painted pink (don’t ask!), made and erected last year by the wonderful Noel Leneghan (of blessed memory) has two specially cut out ‘swallow holes.’
My dear friend Tina Geraghty has supplied special finch birdfeeders and Niger seeds to attract more greenfinch and goldfinch. I’m waiting in joyful hope, like St Bonaventure who said God is one ‘whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere’. This God, like the birds and animals that grace us, may be prayed to in all directions at once.