Shared space is easier said than done

De Facto

MI CASA, SU CASA?  Whether it’s a garden shed, a pavement or a public amenity, sharing doesn’t always come naturally to us humans.

De Facto
Liamy MacNally

Sunflower seeds are the current big hit with the goldfinches. Three bird feeders are filled each morning and replenished before the day is out. They also vary their diet with nuts, fat balls, niger seeds and dry porridge oats. Downtown Sheeaune has superb culinary choice!  
The goldfinches share their space flitting from feeder to feeder, along with the chaffinches, sparrows, dunnocks and great tits. The siskins (they are legion!) are more into the nuts and fat balls. I counted 14 of these little birds one day last week. The redpolls are there but still a little shy, while the blue and coal tits are busy, busy, busy. The robins, starlings and blackbirds are all daily visitors. The starlings will soon head to the shed eave and pock-mark the nearby oil tank for the foreseeable future.
The rooks, jackdaws and magpies are also here but feed at the other side of the house. I’m not a magpie fan, and they know it! A few collared doves, pied wagtails and thrushes also grace us. Soon they will start their mating dances, all jigs and reels.
With the run on the sunflower seeds I now buy them in large bags, more like sacks. I thought they would be easier to store rather than empty the 2kg bags into plastic containers. Something else had other ideas. Three-and-a-half inches of lively and sprightly mouse flesh ran down the bag when I entered the shed. It scared the living begonias out of me!
“Ya little hoor ya,” I muttered when I recovered sufficiently to get my breath back. I’d nearly swear I heard a squeaky reply: “Shared space, Cove.”
“I’ll share space you! I’ll pin you onto a 4 by 2 inch timber lat with a metal brace around your neck!”
The mousetrap mentality pervaded until I remembered a meditation from Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, who said that all living things ‘share the same life force’. Sure thing, I thought, but I bet his bird feed isn’t being assailed by mighty mouse! ‘Shared space’ and ‘same life force‘ are regular themes of Richard Rohr. We are all part of and participating in the bigger picture of creation as it expands and unravels among us.
Shared space comes to mind at the Point down the Quay in Westport. While the great development work continues, one wonders why it was not possible to make the swimming steps accessible to people with disabilities. One would love to see the plans of the work and question the architect/engineer. And the table and chairs have been removed. Shared space?
Or take a walk around the Pond at the Quay. One cannot help but notice the proliferation of towbars posing huge dangers to pedestrians from badly parked vans and cars. Why do drivers feel they have to reverse in and make sure their back wheels touch the kerb? Footpaths are not spaces to be shared with vehicles.             
And the toilets halfway up Croagh Patrick, as mentioned in this paper last week; that space cannot be shared with anyone because it’s so crappy. Mayo County Council is cleaning up on the Reek carpark charges but won’t spend a penny on the loo! Why is it that some council projects seem to come under the ‘Ara, sure it’ll do’ category? Other council projects are finished to the highest standard and everyone is so proud of the work done. What is wrong with always being the best, doing the best and providing the best for the people you serve?
That sounds like something my little mouse friend would scream at me! I actually leave him a little food now (so there’s no need for him to rip open my birdfeed bags anymore). He is obviously so grateful, he’s brought in a friend. I met her in the last few days as they both scurried when I opened the door. I hope my fears are not realised and that I am not creating a perfect mouse maternity wing! That’s when shared space will require some serious thinking!
We also share space with ever-dirty roadworks that muddy all our cars. I wonder would mice relocate to lorry cabs and heavy machinery? Shared space.