02 December 2012

Guerilla Knitting

Winter weather, take your pick: bright cold sunshine, glittering grass-crunching frost; mizzling grey, clouds  kneeling on the sodden ground; relentless rain and a biting north-westerly wind. As November gave way to ever darkening December, we had most winter weathers this week. Best to light the fire and stay inside for much of the time, and all the better if you can do it in good company, which we had in a friend's house in Co. Waterford (thanks for the warm hospitality H.) Looking out the window of her cottage on Sunday morning, the last of the rose hips and the gathering droplets told their own cold story.

Winter Rose Hips, Co. Waterford
Short winter days do mean that you can see every dawn though. And being out and about at dawn means that you hear the first robins testing the cold winter light and the rattling wrens calling from hidden hedges. It also means that one curious schnauzer gets to annoy the local foxes. I'm assuming she sees them as yet another chance for play (which is the way she views most dogs she meets) and so on one of the dark mornings this week she spotted and then chased one of our local foxes with great enthusiasm and speed. To say the fox was disinterested would understate it a little. The following morning I saw the two foxes before Izzy did - silent figures, still and watchful, eyeing us calmly before gliding off across the field, brushes gracefully suspended on the air, disappearing into a thicket of brambles and elders without a sound.

In the middle of the day, in the middle of the city, I had a wildlife encounter of another sort. By the Grand Canal a heron had decided to take up temporary residence in one of the trees, much to the chagrin of the local hooded crows. Three of them harried and harassed the heron, to absolutely no effect. There was a touch of seasonal pantomime about it ("he's BEHIND you!!"): one of the crow trio would hop onto a branch behind the heron while the others hung around on nearby branches waiting to see what would happen. The crow made a lunge and missed; the heron ignored it. Another crow would then have a go from the front. Still nothing. Then when they crossed some invisible thin red line, the heron would give a desultory but well-aimed stab with that long bill and the crows would flap a branch or two away.

And start again.

I stood to watch for a while as most hungry lunchtime office workers scurried below, heads bent against the winter weather. A fellow traveller saw me watching and remarked on the goings-on; "They're not too thrilled, are they?" ... "I've seen the heron take ducklings in the summertime" he said ... And that's okay - herons have to eat too.

On the same stretch of canal, close to where Paddy Kavanagh keeps his eternal vigil, someone has done this:

Winter warmer - a tree on the Grand Canal
Guerilla Knitting! Thanks to whomever did it. It cheered me up on a grey day.
Have a good week all.

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