Leaving the nest

The Daily Inkling prompt about the hardest nest-leaving prompted me to write about the last time I ever set foot in my parent’s home. I’ve never written about it before. It must be time.


There was a stillness about the house as if she had just gone upstairs, or out to buy the bread, an expectancy, a trail of her perfume in the air. I could almost hear her departing steps, the click of the door. My eyes went to the chair by the window that my dad hadn’t sat in for ten years. Exactly ten years. The symmetry was unbearable, as hard as the tidiness.

She had known before anyone even knew she was sick, terminally sick, that it was over, life, living, walking the hills with her friends, nattering with us all on the phone, always a visit planned. She had spent those last weeks folding the linen away neatly, cleaning out the fridge, throwing away everything that was worn or torn or would be of no use to anyone else. Afterwards.

She permeated the air particles with that faint scent of a perfume that nobody else wore. Nothing was out of place. Everything was clean, shelves dusted, the rental paid on the TV up to the end of the month. She had even renewed the subscription at the DVD place, up to the end of the month. By then, the funeral would be over and we would have all gone home.

I wept over every still, faintly perfumed corner of that house where I had never lived. It had been my parents’ house, where they lived. Their nest. But I realised then, in that moment of sitting in a front room that had never been mine, with siblings around me, together as we had so rarely been in that house, that the house didn’t matter. It could have been a pile of dust on the dark side of the moon, but that tidiness, that delicate thoughtfulness, the faint perfume that permeated it, made it home.

After the funeral, the house died too, and we put it to rest. We emptied it of the carefully folded linen, the mementos, photos, her paintings, the furniture, all that she had thought would be useful or would please us to have, and we laid the stones to rest. My parents’ nest was empty. We have it all now, the twigs and pebbles lovingly gathered, in our hearts.



Rainy Sunday bliss

The organised pheasant shoot seemed to finish at lunchtime on Thursday and since then, there has been minimal activity from the men with guns. The animals have come out of hiding, though the caravan of refugee pheasants never really got into the spirit of keeping their heads down. The hare was lolloping around yesterday evening, the pheasants set up a din after lights out, and again around midnight meaning, yes, they were still there, and there was a prowler. I hope it was a fox.

There are a lot of fox turds around, and martens’ so they haven’t all been exterminated, and we see the squirrels about too. Our red squirrels seem to have black tails. Apparently this happens often in these parts. The deer are around at night, having been daily visitors until the pheasant massacre began. We know they come round at night because they are gradually eating our apple trees.

Trixie has been on a private massacre of her own. She has caught and eaten a flock of voles, but these last few days, she has been off her vole. Or rather field mouse, her latest discovery. The last ones she has just dumped in front of the house and gone for a lie down. Yesterday she caught something, brought it into the veranda and let it go. It ran and hid under the wellies and she couldn’t be bothered pursuing the matter and asked to go outside again. I caught the little critter, which was completely undamaged, and put it outside in the woodpile where the killer won’t find it. It was the loveliest little thing, a baby shrew, silky grey fur like a mole, and it blinked its eyes as though it wasn’t used to daylight.

This lunchtime, we witnessed a most touching display from a couple of pheasants. As if they know the hunters aren’t around at the moment they have been wandering around in the meadow and along the hedge. We saw a hen pheasant running in a distracted sort of way along the hedge, stopping every few yards to peer about, looking for something/someone. Then the object of her desire came running across the meadow (pheasants only seem to fly as a last resort) and they were reunited. The hen leapt into the air and bounced about in delight (literally) like a flighty fifteen year-old. He rubbed himself against her when she stayed still long enough. And we think only human beings have those kind of reactions.

rain falls from low cloud

the air is green, winter waits

the earth is busy.



A haven perhaps


Since the season started, the deer have been round often. Do they know? Since the guns started blazing they have been coming here. Perhaps they do know. Often they are in pairs, a mother and a young one. Usually they stay close together. The young ones have been among the first to be born this year, almost fully grown, sensible. This morning the young one was a later birth, one of those unruly kids, leaping and gambolling like a little goat, straying further and further from its mother. They grazed along the bramble hedge then back to the corner beneath the alders where they crossed the stream. I thought they’d gone, but Bambi popped up again, by the willows, mother following.

An hour later, they were still there. I took Finbar out for a pee. He didn’t notice them; they didn’t notice us. Mother ambled beneath the alders and crossed the stream at the place where I go to pass the time of day with the frogs who sit in a patch of sun on the bank. Ten minutes later, Bambi frisked out of the ditch beneath one of the willows. Looked about for ma. Frisked up towards the house, looking around all the time for mother. Then he ran. Bounded. But not in fright, not to run from anything, with the simple joie de vivre that I recognised from watching Finbar do the same. He ran almost a hundred yards along the stream then ran all the way back again. He ran, skipping and leaping in deer-twists back and forth, with no other thought than amusement. Same long legs, same careless leaping through brambles and over obstacles, but lighter than a big racing dog, less powerful but with more grace.

Back and forth, skip, jump, brisk shake of the head. Ears prick. Ma? I imagined his mother, sighing to herself at the other side of the stream, maybe settled down to wait. No calling, quiet. Eventually he trotted over to the track that goes over the stream by the frogs’ place. I saw the white scut in the shade as he sauntered back to his mother. Perhaps to get a clip around the ear.


Carless joy beneath

a milky sky—wild children


Alien Urns, or the sordid secrets of Mother Nature

I’m posting this just to share the skin-crawling sensation we’re feeling. If you’re of a squeamish disposition, don’t look at the photo.

Among the useless rubbish in the barn, husband found the previous owner’s besace, the bag he used when he was out on patrol. We learned from several neighbours that old André was not a hunter, put up barbed wire to keep them out, was a bit of an ecolo and liked the wildlife. It has earned him a mitigated memory, but endeared him to me. Anyway, husband found an old leather bag of his and thought it might be useful for putting his whetting stone in and all the other bits and pieces he has to have about his person when he’s scything.

He took the bag out of the barn, cleaned it up and hung it up on the porch near the wood pile. And forgot about it. yesterday, he remembered it. Opened it, and this is what he found on the underside of the flap.


A mud dauber wasp had been busy over the summer and constructed these alien objects like mud urns each about an inch long, with the remains of a wasp pupa inside. There is something really creepy about these things. Maybe it’s the association with Alien but nobody so far has volunteered to clean the bag up.

#Three Line Tales: And the result is…yes!

In the light of Ireland’s abortion referendum on Saturday, there can be only one story behind this photo—Sonya’s Three Line Tales photo prompt.

photo by Julian Lozano via Unsplash



Night falls on the sport’s field where the campaigners for change wait with bated breath for the result of the referendum to appear on the big screen, the referendum that will decide whether the country is prepared to take women’s rights seriously.

They wait with the fear in their guts that the power of the priest and the over-bearing weight of tradition will screw a ‘no’ vote out of the vast majority of the rural population.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the anguish of waiting is over, and the result flashes up on the screen—yes!

En promenade with Trixie

Trixie is not the kind of cat that shows much interest in people. She is very vocal, but that’s telling people what she wants, not an attempt at meaningful conversation. The only time she was known to allow anyone to pick her up and not protest was when she was an abandoned kitten and was looking for a home daft enough to take her in. Her behaviour has changed quite a lot since we’ve been here. Not that she purrs or sits on your lap or anything demeaning like that, but she has developed a taste for going walkies. Every afternoon she comes with me, or me and Finbar on a stroll around the property. It’s two hectares so it makes a reasonable stroll for a cat.

I set off down towards the stream, and Trixie follows.

Trixie begins

She knows the path

She knows the routine

We meet one of the noisy critters that chuckles all night. It thinks we can’t see it, but the water in this bit of the ditch is only about half an inch deep.


Come on Trixie

We inspect the deer damage. This is supposed to be what happens when they rub their horns against trees, but since they do it systematically to the young saplings, I wonder if it’s not that they are eating the bark.

Deer damage

Trixie takes the lead along the hedge. She inspects the animal runs while I take pics of the orchids.

Trixie ahead

There are only a few serapias in our meadow, but the one at the other side of the hedge has masses of them. This one appears to have a bee stuck in it.

Sarapia orchid

There are hundreds of bee orchids

Bee orchids

and a big clump of these that look like birds’ nest orchids, but since they are rare and grow mainly in pine woods, I wouldn’t swear to it.

Birds' nest orchids

Looking across to the house. The pink flower is a pyramid orchid of which there are hundreds. We’ve noticed that the people round here leave these orchids standing when they mow their lawns. I wonder if there isn’t some local legend about them.

Meadow high

A very old blackthorn with sloe berries forming

very old blackthorn

Fig and walnut trees in the patch that was the old kitchen garden

Fig and walnut

A bit of the massive vine that we are liberating from the brambles


The next section is where the grass snake lives and I don’t like to hang about. It is very large and it hisses. Then there are the oak tree where squirrels live and both Trixie and Finbar are very keen to get at, so I carry Trixie, protesting vociferously until we get to the poplars and the black locust tree.

Home again

Home again.