The sparrow, now named Jack, keeps on knocking. I called a friend and have discovered why. It seems he sees his own reflection in the window, the one just below his nest under the slates. He believes this reflection to be a rival male, hence he flings his little body at the glass over and over again, glass that is now well and truly beaked. Evidence of his relentless collisions is peppered over the whole pane. I hang cloth on the inside, darkening the stairwell but he still sees himself, still wakes me at dawn. His beak must be quite rounded off by now. I’m not sure I can go through a whole nesting season with his percussive accompaniment. His wife watches from where she perches on the gutter. She might be jolly proud of his manliness for all I know. I don’t speak sparrow. This morning I pull down the darkling cloth and screw a cup hook into the recess. Balanced on steps, I affix my bejewelled dangly thingy. It catches the light and moves gently in the breeze. So far so good. Either he is off somewhere collecting bits and bobs for a soft landing, or he has been fooled by bling. I am hopeful. I just want him to stop beating himself up. It is hard enough to go through the annual palaver of finding a mate, building a nest and rearing his young, without the added extra of having to fend himself off, dulling his beak in the process.
Yesterday the old sea-dog was fitted with a pacemaker. It all went smoothly and he sounded fine when I spoke with him afterwards, if a little groggy. Today he returns to the island, all being well, and, knowing him, all will be. There is a sense of relief tinged with apprehension among the family. Although his heart will now work as it should and he will feel stronger, he still has dementia and I am still practising the true art of caring. My days will go back to what they were and however much I practise, I will never be perfect. This swingle of conflicting emotions thinks me of the sparrow attacking his own reflection. And no bling will fool me. One minute I am wishing this was over, and the next beating myself up. It’s like tennis in my head, back and forth and it never stops. Between the family members there are differing opinions, maddened by high velocity emotions and there’s himself heading down the road to nowhere. And then there’s me with a dulled beak and a load of guilt, hurling myself at my own reflection.
Each day there is more colour across this land. Gorse explodes in a rapture of butter yellow across the bare hills that once stood forest tall. Willows push out new leaves and birches flash silver at the kiss of sunlight. I see deer graze on the skyline, chestnut brown against the winter grasses, slow moving, bellies rounded with new life. I hear the birds and I watch them colour up the little garden as they dart down for food. The air is gentle, the sun warm, the sea-loch a tad bumpy. Today, a beach walk across the white sands and a long listen to the heartbeat of the sea. I will whisper my words into the wind and watch them fly far out to where salty boats punctuate the horizon.
‘True art comes from flying with the madness so close you burn your eyelashes.’ Atticus