“What is life if full care we have no time to stand and stare”

Monday November 28th 2016

Christine Grahame MSP in Parliament Main

Christine Grahame MSP for Mildothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale writes her monthly column for Midlothian View

“What is life if full care we have no time to stand and stare”.

This comes from a poem called “Leisure” by WH Davies and I remember having to learn this by heart at school. Do they still do that?

Anyway, ages on these are the things you remember, apart from the time you made smells in chemistry. H2S hydrogen sulphide to be exact and that smell of rotten eggs!

Anyway, back to standing and staring or more accurately sitting and staring. There I was, on Sunday sitting peaceably in my conservatory , completely switched off from politics, housework done, cat fed and washing on the drier just watching the to-ings and fro-ings of my flock of well-fed sparrows and cantankerous thrushes when a large fox popped its head through the cat tunnel.

I say “tunnel” but it is a cat-sized hole in the fence cut to allow Mr Smokey (my rescue cat), and other felines to come and go. It was about 2.30 on a drab grey afternoon. It meandered about, tried to reach the bird feeders then scoffed the apple scraps left for the table feeding birds.

It came right up to the door, oblivious to me as I sat statue still. Then another young fox poked its head through, and from their behaviour and size I would have guessed I was watching Mr and Mrs Fox. A noise, a scatter of birds to the safety of the holly tree and he was off but she lingered and put paid to the last of the apple scraps.

Meantime up above a squirrel perched on the roof ridge, stock still, giving me the eye and ever so stealthily bit by bit moved onto my neighbour’s roof.

Back on the ground Mr Smokey had captured a very fat mouse, his patience at stalking beside the garden hut paying off at long last. I quickly blocked the cat-flap having no taste for his antics with wounded rodents and only let him in once he reached licking his lips stage.

Now what is the point of this if you have stuck with me so far? It’s to do with switching off, from telly, work, worries at large. Had I not decided to just sit there, cold though it was, I would have missed my David Attenborough moments which no doubt take place all day and all night when my back is turned.

Mr Smokey will know more about this than me but I’m just one of the inhabitants of this very very small patch of land. And that’s just the wildlife I can see above ground and in the air. Where do Mr and Mrs Fox live? I know there must be a den nearby because they are just two in a long line of foxes to cross my garden. I know there are badgers about, a colleague saw one crossing the road one evening, though I have yet to see a hedgehog.

Yes Planet Earth 2 is riveting stuff but by the way, so is my back garden and so is your neighbourhood. Just sit quietly and see what crosses your path. Yes there’s a lot to be said for just doing nothing and watching another world go by.

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