The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

It’s the little things that make the difference

Honesty - white Lunaria odorata

Photo: Honesty - white Lunaria odorata

I don’t often write much about the little things that give me pleasure. They initially seem too insignificant to merit a blog post but these small, precious moments buoy me up. I return to the experience during the day and often for many days afterwards.

A couple of days ago I saw a Mistle Thrush pair resting on a pile of timber in the front garden. The husband calling voraciously, chest puffed out – a real swell of a male. His wife was demure, slimmer and looking much gentler. Watching her mate.

They suddenly flew up to their nest above our kitchen window. What joy – I might see Mistle Thrush young this summer.

The Mistle Thrush is not a rare bird in the UK. There are loads of them in our garden. I love watching them. They are beautifully marked with tiny white dots on the chest. I’ve never spotted an obvious pair so that morning was very special for me.

I didn’t grow up learning the varieties of trees or birds or flowers – they just were not in my frame of reference. I do know where to go if I need help or information – a quick visit to Celia of Purple Podded Peas fame will quickly, tactfully set me on the right path. She doesn’t boast or make people feel small. Celia shares and empowers without a qualm.

When I moved here 21 years ago I gradually got into the natural world that I discovered in the cottage garden. I didn’t steep myself in knowledge, preferring to just look. It was a slow process of letting go and welcoming the life that I found around me. This wildlife came independently and it’s treasured just for that. Apart from planting hedges and making a big pond I did very little to attract more to our garden.

In a way I count myself lucky. The twist of a newt found under a stone, the steady progress of a water boatman across the pond, the fact that goldfish have successfully spawned all fill me with pleasure and awe.

Whatever is happening in my life there is a far more complex, amazing and multi layered world just a few inches away from my doorstep. All I have to do is stand still, open my eyes, focus and look.


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  1. Just before i read this post tonight, I had gone outside to take a breath of fresh air. Often I feel I don’t get the chance to listen properly during the day so I was happy to hear the deep tinkle of cow bells, the clatter of a wood pigeon as it exited a tree opposite, the crickets in surrounding fields. Not a single car, not a television, not a human voice. It’s good to listen to what’s all around us.

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