Daily Decoration: dire tinplate squirrel

Christmas tree decoration representing a squirrel sitting in a red boot

Things are getting a bit desperate here. I had to get this squirrel out of the box and hang it on the tree today. It didn’t go up on Christmas Eve because I don’t actually like it very much. But I think I’ll just about manage to find a decoration for each of the last few days of Christmas.

Today has been the last day before I start work again and, after weeks of dense grey cloud alternating with heavy rain, it’s been beautiful. I went out for my first bike ride of the year in the morning (who needs hills when you have Fenland winds?) and this afternoon Tony and I spent a cheerful hour and a half pruning the most awkward of the apple trees and destraggling the wisteria and the vine that grow over the pergola.

Hence the squirrel. We have a couple of visiting grey squirrels who scamper along the fences and steal from the birdfeeders. Today I saw one of them squatting on the pergola, nibbling away at something, I couldn’t see what.

Having spent a significant part of my life on the Isle of Wight, I’m honour bound to disapprove of grey squirrels, invasive species that they are. Particularly when they start stealing from the birdfeeders. On the mainland, however, I have to admit that I quite enjoy watching them. It’s particularly amusing when the Slinky that we installed on the birdfeeder pole does its job and stops them climbing up it from the ground (the squirrel’s own weight stretches the spring and deposits it gently back on the floor), though they’re quite capable of reaching their goal from any of the nearby trees and bushes.

As for the birds, we get sparrows and starlings, great tits (I think), blue tits (I’m almost sure), robins, blackbirds, goldfinches (occasionally), collared doves and wood pigeons, and once, very excitingly, a green woodpecker. Although since it was neither pecking wood nor looking particularly green I had to ask the internet for confirmation. I’ve heard what I think was a hedgehog and have seen what was definitely a hedgehog – twice. The second time was in daylight, though, which is a bit worrying. I put some cat food out for it. The cat food disappeared, but that might just have been cats.

Anyway, it’s been very pleasant to spend some time outdoors today, and I intend to do more of that this year. Perhaps in three months or so I’ll take a deckchair out, and a book.

December Reflections 8: favourite photo of 2020

winter trees silhouetted against a pale pink and blue sky. There are three squirrels in among the branches

I’ve already mentioned how much I’m enjoying the camera on my new phone. It’s better than the camera on my old phone. It’s better than the camera on my camera – and, because it’s on my phone, I’ve been taking it with me pretty much everywhere.

So I’ve taken a lot of photos this year. Many of them are of things in my garden: beans, flowers, fruit, ladybirds, trees. Trees outside my garden, too. Lately I’ve been fascinated by the richness of winter morning light on lichened bark, by silhouettes of bare branches. Many of them are of the amazing fenland skies that I’m coming to know better: sunsets from my study window, sunrises from my morning walk, imposing cloudscapes over flat ploughed fields.

I couldn’t have chosen between all the trees. I couldn’t have chosen between all the skies. But there was only one morning when I saw three squirrels in the same tree, and this is the photo in which they’re looking their most squirrelsome. So here it is: my favourite photo of 2020.