Alexander Averin

Sunday 17 April 2011

Humans and Avians

Dear Diary,

Just a quick post tonight.  My time is being taken up in the garden just lately. I am a fair weather gardener and the weather has been very fair so….out I have been.

I  haven’t seen any otters since the last time (see previous post) but I did see two wild ducks swimming in the river this morning which was exciting.  I stood stock still for about ten minutes on the bank and they didn’t notice me there.  Usually the ducks fly off if they catch sight of humans.  They spent a long time swimming up and down as if they were looking round our little bit of river; I got the (probably stupid) feeling that they were ‘house-hunting’ and I prayed they would like our little piece of heaven for their home.  They both ducked under the water in the end and disappeared - I like to think they went behind the old tree stump and a huge mess of branches that sits on the bank and that they are setting up home there or have done so already.  I will keep you posted.

Talking of posts I just have to post this poem for you from the new Neil Astley Bloodaxe poetry anthology Being Human.  I borrowed it from the library, it’s brand new and I am the first to borrow it but  will no doubt end up buying a copy. I already own and love Staying Alive and Being Alive.   I've only read a few pages of this one so far but have fallen in love with one poem.  I wonder if you will like it too?  It is funny (sorry that was unintentional but Funny happens to be the title) how poems still often translate so beautifully into English.  It must depend a lot on the skill of the translator I guess.   It’s funny too that the subject matter of the poem is also avian.  I shall have to read more by this poet.

Here it is.

(There is no punctuation)


What's it like to be a human
the bird asked

I myself don't know
it's being held prisoner by your skin
while reaching infinity
being a captive of your scrap of time
while touching eternity
being hopelessly uncertain
and helplessly hopeful
being a needle of frost
and a handful of heat
breathing in the air
and choking wordlessly
it's being on fire
with a nest made of ashes
eating bread
while filling up on hunger
it's dying without love
it's loving through death

That's funny said the bird
and flew effortlessly up into the air

 Anna Kamienska

Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Claire Cavanagh

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,

Saturday 9 April 2011

Nature news

Otter Swimming

Dear Diary,

I had a wonderful experience yesterday evening, one you get not too many times in a lifetime - I saw an otter close up in our river in the daylight.  I had been out picking a few daffodils for the parlour and was pruning a few wee bits and pieces as  I made my way back indoors.  I decided to throw the very tiny clippings into the river and as I did so, on the opposite bank I spied an otter ducking and diving.   I stood still and watched it swim upstream and out of sight.  I flew excitedly indoors to tell M and as we looked out of the window a heron landed in the very same spot in the river where the otter had been.  The heron is here a lot, he is the most patient and stealthy bird as he makes his way upstream on the lookout for fish.  Every year a parent heron will bring a young one to the river, obviously teaching it how to catch fish.

I have seen otters before in the moonlight, I hear them regularly on my nightly walks and there is always otter spraint on our banks. I blogged about otters many times but I have never seen one up close in the daylight before though I have seen mink and polecats.  M has glimpsed otters in the early evening diving near our little bridge, he was struck by how huge they are, especially the dogs (males).

Tonight I decided to sit by the river and stage an otter- watch.  I have just been out at the same time as I saw the otter yesterday which was 7.30 pm.  I sat by the river partially hidden by a laurel bush but with a clear view of the river.

We have a dippers’ nest just upstream under the road bridge and  I had a very clear view of that, there is much activity there -  I believe there may be young ones in the wooden nest box.  Dippers  have nested here for generations, I  have read about them in a book written by someone who grew up here.  We are very lucky to be able to watch them in such close proximity, they are used to us and even tolerate the dogs being near them on the river ‘beach’.

I sat by the river for quite a while, all was quiet apart from the dippers flying downstream to fish and then returning to the nest, the occasional car passing by and various birds singing in the trees.  I decided to go out later when dusk is starting to descend. 

As soon as I came indoors I looked out of the cottage window and saw an unusually large bird, but not as big as a buzzard on  the little bridge so I got my binoculars out to see what it was. I think it was a kestrel and as I called M to show him, it swooped down onto the surface of the river in an attempt to catch something - obviously one of my beloved dippers.  Luckily he missed -  I hope that the dipper dove down deep into the river.  This  kestrel must have seen me go into the cottage before deciding to swoop on his prey!

So it is all happening here on the wildlife stage.  I often think that I would love to set up an infra-red night camera but they are quite expensive.

I will report back as soon as there is more news on the nature front.

Bye for now,


Wednesday 6 April 2011

Positives and Revisitings

Dear Diary,

I have just heard of three recent deaths in the local area, two of which were young people, it is so sad.  Round here everyone knows everyone so any death touches the whole community.  Bad news doesn’t seem right on such a beautiful morning.  Why do such sad things have to happen and why in threes?  I can only believe they have all gone to a better place, a cliché I know but I am sure it is true.

Just for today as we say in Reiki circles I will try and dwell on the positives here on Earth.  It is a beautiful spring day and I will not tarry long as the outdoors is calling me.  I have already been out to my local garage, they did a small job on the exhaust pipe of my car and have not charged me a penny; this is the  third time they have done this sort of thing.  Isn’t it wonderful that in today’s Rip-Off Britain there are still some folk left who are not out to fleece you.  A good start to the day.

I have just re-read Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn for my book club, it was such a joy.  I am not one to re-read books very often but Toibin’s way with storytelling just flows, his writing is superb.   If you haven’t read him yet please do.  He is one of my favourite writers; I admit that so many of my faves are Irish authors, it is not bias, it is just that the Irish love words so much and weave them so well. I am now re-reading another - Annie Dunne by Sebastian Barry.  I almost bathe in his prose; I just have to stop and go back to re-read his words, they are so poetic. 

Talking of writing I have set up a blog for our writing group members as a place to post our homework and leave each other comments.  Just because I like a change I have ventured into Wordpress (ssssshhhhhh don’t tell Blogger) but although it all seems very professional I am a real Wordpress virgin still finding my way on there.  We are starting to post all our old bits of ‘homework’ and it struck me how many pieces of work are there which proves that the group is worthwhile and does indeed spur us on to write.  The blog will remain firmly private, open only to members.

I am still tired from the clocks springing forward. I can’t go to bed on time,  I can’t get up in the morning and I look like death warmed up.  I am on the genealogy trail once more, not my family but someone else’s - she has a close relative with a bit of a mysterious past.  It’s a case of burning the midnight oil with this one,  I think I should have been a detective.  My daughter is on the case too; perhaps we should set up in business…….

I received two lovely cards yesterday.  One was this picture by Gu We, a new-to-me artist, isn't it lovely when you discover a new one? I have posted one of his pics as my new header above........

and one by John Shannon, a tree-free card not this one but the one I received I can't find online.

What else am I looking forward to today on this day-off  work day? 

A CD soon arriving in the post by Gurrumul, so haunting, it reaches deep into my soul.  I have posted this before but it must be a time for revisiting,

Spending some time in the garden in the sunshine.  I have treated myself to a new garden bench - my present very cheap one is starting to crumble and the new one should be delivered soon so when I am tired from gardening I can try it out.

Reading more Annie Dunne of course, also in the sunshine, if it lasts.

Watching the birds nesting from my window;  several species are busy at the moment and I shall need to get the binoculars out.

Visiting my daughter and granddaughters later (I have to keep them supplied with reading matter).

I had better go,
Enjoy your moments today.
Go mbeannai Dia duit,