Where do things start?

In the shaky past, an idea was born . . .

Sometimes I think that things need to percolate a bit, or maybe it’s more like stewing, but after the simmering, new projects emerge almost as if they’re fully formed.

But they have to start somewhere. The current tally of nest boxes around our little smallholding, up on the high fellside of Sparty Lea, is seven delightful potential habitations for the small garden birds, and one rather large squirrel box waiting for a red squirrel to set up housekeeping here. We were visited last spring by an inquisitive red squirrel, for whom we immediately, excitedly, bought a special feeder, and then built a capacious nest box, according to guidelines downloaded from a red squirrel trust, which I installed far up on a huge tree shadowing the entrance to the property. But unfortunately, we’ve not been graced by the visitor again, and I’ve had to venture up the tree a couple of times since to try to stabilise the big box that the wind buffets mercilessly. Good exercise, undoubtedly.

The bird boxes, however, proliferated from a tiny germ of an idea. Back when the bakery was still producing, and breadmaking courses were consuming much of our energy, our neighbours found a brilliantly constructed and decorated BAKERS bird box at a car boot sale and with effervescent delgiht passed it along to us. I tried to mount it in the branches of a dense climbing shrub, but it fell out in the wind. Unsure how to fix it to anything, I’ve kept it safe in my writing study ever since, but I’ve only just realised that I could position it on a spare piece of 3″x2″ and in the dreek, yesterday morning, I did just that.

So now it joins the other bespoke houses around the place, the ones that I believe were stimulated, that grew up in the artist’s mind, by and out of the original carboot acquisition. Before the Elf Hole box, there was a grand re-creation of Hogwart’s School, and also a wonderful miniature model of the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury which went to another home. There’s a whole little village up on the wall of our neigbour’s shed! That’s been hours and hours of quiet perseverance and close work for our neighbour, an art project that turned out to be an end in and of itself, besides being an intensive labour of love. A kind of self-fulfilling delight, that conveyed joy first in the construction, and now daily elicits a smile from those of us who share it.

Even more of a delight if the fading winter and the emerging spring sees occupation of the houses by our little garden friends, of course! That was why the sparrow’s appreciation of the bar snacks, in the previous entry, caused a little flutter — they might be inveigled to build a nest under our watchful eyes, and the little village might become a sanctuary for handfuls of fledglings.

And it all started with a thoughtful gift to a pair of retiring bakers who just happened to be neighbours — it began, in other words, with a little bit of human kindness.

Joy multiplies from the smallest grace.

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