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Posts Tagged ‘English Country Gardens’

Oh goody! Quite a few months ago it was announced that there are three more planets in our solar system. That changed everything, and it continues. It seems that not a day goes by but what was once safe and familiar is suddenly a walk on the wild side. The things that made it possible to sit and slurp a cup of tea down while contemplating whether to wash the dog or check out the sales at TJ Maxx are constantly morphing into something dodgy.

There are nine planets. I can breathe easy. OOPS! no I can’t. One’s feathers get so easily ruffled..I must be getting cranky. It happened again today. Reading today’s emailed installment of Boggycreek Farm’s newsletter by Carolann reminded me to catch up on our government’s latest plan to protect us from our food. That would be NAIS, or National Animal Indentification System.

Yes, Dorothy, our ever vigilent government ag agencies want ALL farmyard beasts and fowls — and some not so barnyard — to be tagged, numbered, counted, interrogated (are you or have you ever been free range?).  I really fail to see just how that will protect us, other than providing jobs for the tech industry, which I suppose will keep them from developing yet more nefarious ways for us to harvest information…and waste time on line.

My love of chickens is legendary, and they all had names and lived into gracious retirements,  but more of that later. This business of naming our benign critters reminds of a time back when….(drifts into seamless reveries)

There have been other “you’re kidding, right?” moments in my life, of course. I mean, who hasn’t had the metaphorical rug yanked once or twice? And speaking of ruffled feathers, one of these goofy moments struck in garden in rural England some years ago…and may go some way toward explaining why I think birds are an essential ornament in the garden of life.

In my life as a junior journo, back in the day when I didn’t dare turn down a freelance job, no matter how paltry the pay (wasn’t it Dr. Johnson who wrote, “No man but a fool wrote but for money.”), because, of course, say NO just once, and you’ll never be asked to dance again. I digress…I was working on a book, my first as it happens, titled “English Country Gardens”. so there I was in an English country garden in deepest rural Surrey, south of London — pure Gertrude Jekyll territory — talking to this archetypal English granny…wispy white hair escaping from hairnet, saggy stockings around ankles above stout black shoes. Floral sprig dress and apron.

So, ordinary day in a pretty garden. We’re strolling round, admiring the herbaceous borders (where did these old dears get the energy from to manage 300 square feet of perennials, not to mention kitchen garden, orchard…it nearly kills me to struggle out of my deck chair to pluck a tomato off the vine). It was a PURRFICK day, as they say in south England, blue sapphire sky, fluffy white bits, gentle breeze, impossibly green hills, that garden…and I hear a parrot squawk. SCREEE-CH. Hullloo love. SCREEK. Hulloo lovely. Scree…

“There’s a parrot in your apple tree”

‘I know, dear. M’ nephew gave it to me to look after, poor old thing.”

And it was rather moth-eaten, in the way parrots get when they’re bored or stressed and have been plucking their feathers. Pathetic really, but clearly this little lady was doing her best to give it a happy retirement. Who wouldn’t be happy sitting in an apple tree all day?

“So, have you had it a long time?”

“No dear. just a few years. M’nephew, you see, he lives just over that hill there. Eric Clapton’s his name…he plays guitar. And the parrot was Jimi Hendrix’s, you see, and Eric took him when Jimi died, and now I look after him. Goodness knows what that bird’s seen.”

Probably a few extra planets, now and then.

Parts of this post first appeared as an editor’s blog on Traditional Home’s website as “Birds I have known, Part 1: Eric’s Bird”
Posted 8/16/2006 2:12 PM CDT

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