Friday, 21 December 2007

Seasons Bleatings

Christmas cards may be loved or loathed but the vast number of people send at least a few every year. I love them. I love the slap-thud as they land on the mat, so much more interesting than the pile of junk mail that usually slithers my way. Cheap tatty robins or designer glitter, mine are all read enthusiastically then pegged on strings around the hall. More is best.
There are a few from family, not full of hugs and kisses, we are a restrained bunch, but welcome all the same.
Then there's a sprinkling from friends saying how the months fly and we’ll have to meet up soon.
Two are hand made, one very arty the other of a friend's dog in a soppy outfit.
At last, a party invite. That’s lucky, now did I wear my velvet jacket to their house last year? Hmm!
A couple from ex colleagues. Is there a hint of jealousy when they mention how stressful the old place is? I hope so…
Ah ha! An embossed official card from cousin Joan. I haven’t seen the woman for ten years. She‘s never sent me a card before. I see, she’s now mayor of a small town in the Midlands, Well done Joan!
Some make me feel guilty. Two come from old acquaintances culled from my list in a moment of thrift and one from the milkman thanking me for my loyal custom, even though I haven’t given him a tip. I wish now I’d ordered extra cream.
Once I received a lovely card from Jonathan, and I still don't have clue who he was, but he sent his love. Well, that was quite a few years ago.
A couple of cards are conspicuous in their absence. Oh dear! Who have I offended now? Or perhaps they are ill? S**** is getting on in years, I hope she’s o.k. I’d better give her a ring.
What’s this? A neatly written card with my name on the envelope but inside it says To A… and Margaret. Hang on a minute. My husband is A… but my name isn’t Margaret. How can that woman make a mistake about me. I send them a card every year. This year it was one of my better ones too. I’m offended and childishly miffed. I feel a bout of thrift coming on as I mentally cross her name off next years list.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

The redwings have arrived

The redwings are back. I saw them myself this morning, their wings flashing red and white as they stripped the holly berries from the trees next door. Mine will be next, but I don’t begrudge those lovely birds their feast.

For many years, when I was working full time, redwings were mythical beasts to me. Off I’d go early in the morning, my holly tree laden with berries that were barely visible in the half light. Then I’d return well after dark only to find, by the light from the porch, that all the berries had been mysteriously removed. Not a berry left.

Indoors my phone would be flashing red, with a smug message from next door saying that, once again, the redwings had arrived and I’d missed them. The following dawn would reveal a tree stripped bare.

For neighbours, bird watching from kitchen windows can be a competitive sport. Last year my neighbour saw a spotted flycatcher on the shed, but I saw the bramblings first. We both agree that redwings are something special. So I was pleased to catch sight of the flock that flew over this mornings. Their shrill trecx, trecx, trecx and the whirr of many wings made me look up in time to see about thirty flying overhead. A race upstairs for a better view showed them feasting and growing fat on next door’s berries.

They can strip a tree bare in a matter of hours and be gone as mysteriously as they arrived, those tough little harbingers of wintry weather. What a pity he’s missed them. I think I’ll just leave a message on his answer phone. The redwings arrived but he was out.