Ponderings from the Polytunnel

Someone else’s story.

Sitting at the top of the forsythia, my morning alarm clock can be heard advertising his presence. With the ‘full throated ease’ of his cousin the nightingale, Bob opens his mouth and the most incredible, bittersweet sound comes out – like water gently trickling down rocks. There’s a tinge of sadness in the song but he’s not sad, it’s just how I hear him. He’s wearing his adult coat now; his bright red bib is unique; like his own thumb print, and it’s how he is recognised by others of his kind. He looks nothing like his young self – let’s face it, few of us do! He doesn’t get to wear his bib until after his first moult because it would make him too visible to predators. Now that he is more street wise, he can be as bold and brassy as he likes and boy – is he being bold and brassy! It’s not a bad way to be woken up and I hope he takes reassurance in the fact that, not once have I been tempted to throw him out of the window!  

Young robin doesn’t develop his recognisable red breast until after the first moult, making him look very different to the adult
shallow focus photo of european robin bird
Photo by Martin Dickson on Pexels.com

In the UK, the robin is one of the few birds to be heard singing throughout winter, and his simple but beautiful attire adds a dash of colour to the drab greyness of it all. He is ranked as our favourite garden bird and has become a major feature in our traditions around Christmas. How did such an ‘everyday’ fellow reach such a lofty status; especially when in nearly all other parts of the world he is known for being shy and elusive?

Centuries ago, when we turned our hand to the plough, we – as a nation of agriculture, made life easy for Bob and all subsequent little boblets, digging up all those juicy worms! So, they learned to hang out with us. In Victorian times, the postman wore a red tunic and when delivering the new-fangled items called ‘Christmas cards’, the red breasted postman became synonymous with the solo, red breasted chorister of winter. He has become a significant part of our culture, story and life experience here in the west.

The beginning of the year is a time when many of us look both back and ahead. We make plans, set goals and dream big! When I was but a sapling; so many moons ago, I had dreams that would save the world!!!! As you have no doubt noticed- I didn’t make it – I have not saved the world. There are some ways in which life hasn’t turned out how I had expected. Your experience might be the same; life may have left you scratching your head. But the energy, ambition, naivety, passion and creativity of our youth wasn’t misplaced, because; we have become a part of someone else’s story! Like our lovely robin hopping about in the garden, just being Bob; our very presence in this life has become a part of someone’s else’s experience. Robin has become world renowned. When we think of Christmas, he usually comes to mind. When others reflect on their lives – YOU will come to mind. Images of Bob front exchanges and expressions of love.  YOUR face will personify memories and considerations of love. I have learned to be content with being a part of someone else’s story. My only ambition now is to do it well because it is actually, a massively privileged and responsible thing to be. So, don’t be concerned if you can’t come up with a 2 – step master plan for global domination this year!  Remember, you are not only the thread in your own tapestry but the thread in many other tapestries too. My story is richer and more colourful because of you – thank you – and thank you for reading 😊

cute erithacus rubecula passerine bird sitting on wooden surface in nature
Photo by Gordon Bishop on Pexels.com

Published by the back door gardener

Passionate about growing food in any space and about teaching others to do the same. I'm trying to start a backdoor revolution - no allotment needed. I've fed myself from my garden for over 10 years; only needing to buy some emergency parsnips for Christmas several years ago.

8 thoughts on “Ponderings from the Polytunnel

  1. So lovely Isa, it reminded me of that trip we took on the train to Arley, do you remember the juvenile robin who joined us in our picnic?

  2. Oops it looks as though my comment has completely disappeared. Again this was a lovely read but way too short! Do you remember the train trip we took to Arley and the juvenile robin who joined us for our picnic?

      1. I had totally forgotten about that until you mentioned it, that was such a precious day. XXXX

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