Doing words

My favourite subject at school was English language and I soon learned that verbs were necessary to every sentence.  Verbs express what we do and a sentence is incomplete without at least one lurking in there, explaining what we are about.

Kirkheaton’s 20% for Wildlife group exists, largely, to encourage residents of the village to learn more about nature and to set aside a little of their gardens for the benefit of the birds, mammals and insects that share our planet.  We’re good at doing.  We have days where we build bird boxes, bat boxes and bug hotels.  Our leader takes us on warbler walks and bat walks.  We cut, strim, tidy and plant in the orchard.  We ‘do’.

Yesterday, my wife and I opened our garden to share ideas about gardening for wildlife.  A steady stream of visitors arrived to have a look around and it was a great opportunity to see friends, old and new.  Two of these friends shared a small table right in front of the bird feeders and spent a good 20 minutes eating scones and drinking tea.  They had placed themselves there so they could watch.  Watching is a different kind of verb.  You don’t need a hammer and nails, a strimmer or a lawnmower.  You don’t even need to walk.  You just need to open your eyes and see.  It’s more of an inactive doing and one that I am not particularly good at.

Great spotted woodpecker

I caught a glimpse of the baby woodpecker whose mother had shown him the peanuts, while I was busying myself gardening.  My attention is often diverted from what I am doing by the squawk of the grey heron in the field below or the buzzard calling from the thermals above.  Talking to our visitors yesterday, prompted me to spend some time gazing into the wildflower patch.  Here, I saw plants that had so far eluded me.  The corn cockles were standing tall and taking all the glory, but lower down, all manner of smaller plants were reaching for the sky and coming into flower.  Small insects sat on the flower heads and the odd bee that dared to brave the cold wind was doing its pollinating.  In short, for a while, I put aside the ‘active doing’ in favour of an ‘inactive doing’.

A garden that is cared for is a great space to enjoy but I, for one, am guilty of spending much more time working in it than looking at it.  Our friends who so enjoyed watching the birds reminded me that in everything, we should find a balance.  What artist paints a picture simply for the joy of painting?  What photographer captures an image and then files it away, never to be seen.  

I’m making a June resolution – to do more ‘inactive doing’ in the garden, less chopping and changing, more watching and enjoying nature instead of catching glimpses of the animal world only as a result of the chance calls of its residents.  I’m going to strike a balance.  My June verbs are going to be sit, listen, watch and see.  Then, I will enjoy more the fruits of my labours.

P.S.  If you want to learn more about the 20% for Wildlife group, visit Kirkheaton’s 20% for wildlife facebook page and join our WhatsApp group by clicking on the 20% WhatsApp link on the right of this page.

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