Love Life Live Advent – 10th December – Feed the birds!

Ibird made my fat balls quite a while ago, and was still wondering whether I could find anything profound to say about them in today’s blog post, when I was distracted by a loud squawking from the front garden.  When I looked out I was treated to the sight of three crows fighting what I’ve since found out was probably a red-tailed hawk, for custody of a long-dead opossum.  The birds were being fed but somehow this lacked the poetic warm feeling I had been hoping for. And the opossum was really stinky.

The fight over the opossum corpse had also scared all the regular garden birds away, so for today’s blog post there are some birds that we see on the school run.  They are very ordinary urban sparrows, and they like to gather together on the telegraph wires. We see them every day, and we really really like them, because they’re ordinary, and small, and birdsonawirebecause we think the poor things must stick around for the long, cold Ohio winters (otherwise they would have left by now).  Also, sparrows are very biblical (see Matthew 10.29).  So, here’s a not very good poetic tribute to them, but a little sonnet is the best I could do – sorry birds, you deserve better!


If two are worth a penny – no great cost –
then this great crowd is worth at least a quid;
I’d pay far more to know that I’d not lost
such life, by winter’s frost and cold outbid.

They thickly fur the wires overhead
like iron filings on a magnet’s pole,
Grey-brown against the sky looks black instead
and all the parts blur dark within the whole.

This testament to fragile nature’s strength
in numbers: cold alone, together warm,
as all along the endless cable’s length
they huddle, side by side, before the storm.

A noise – a whir of wings – and then, as one,
the whole great flock lifts skywards, and is gone.

Love Life Live Advent – 6th December – Spend some quality time with a pine cone

So last week my son picked up a pine cone and wanted to keep it, but rather than putting it in his own pocket, he wanted me to put it in mine. So I did, and as usual, he forgot it was there, and so did I. Today was the first time I wore that coat again since then, and I’m about to go and pick the kids up from school, and I put my hand in the pocket hoping to find my gloves and instead I my fingers touch this weird scaley thing, and I have a real moment of ‘Yikes, what is that???’ before I get hold of myself and look at it. It’s the pine cone. And then when I get back from the school run I look in my Love Life Live Advent booklet, and the task for the next day is to look at a pine cone, and notice its textures, and I think, ‘I already did that!’

My son didn’t want the pine cone after all (a few days in my pocket and it wasn’t quite as perfect as when he’d found it, perhaps) so I thought I’d draw a picture of it instead. I don’t think I’d drawn a picture of a pine cone since I was at school. It’s amazing what you see when you try and draw something – the mathematical arrangement of the ‘petals’ (if that’s the right word – it probably isn’t) is never quite regular, but it’s still beautiful. And they’re really hard to draw! So I can’t offer a perfect 2D reproduction of the pine cone, but here is my original, plus some ways that my phone’s camera had fun with it – I rather like the way you can play with the contrast, the light and shade. Actually, my favourites are the ones that are least like the original drawing…. And I did end up spending some quality time with the pine cone after all.

pine cone 2pine cone 1  pine cone 3  pine cone 5 pine cone 6pine cone 4