Today, as I came down from a leisurely breakfast on the roof terrace, I was reminded of the late and rather wonderful Henry Tyler, who was of the count your blessings school of thought.
One day I might expend some energy looking for studies and information on the mental and physical benefits of being positive and thankful for all the many good things in life. In the meantime, let me wax lyrical about some of what has made my life today just about as good as it gets.
(Click here for a delightful piece of music to cheer up your day…)
As I type, Dick van Duck is craning his neck so he can rest his beak on the sofa and snooze standing next to me. There is something very endearing about his desire to snuggle up, even if he is not really comfortable doing so. Poppy is lying in one of her favourite positions, on her back with her legs leaning against the front of the sofa. She opens an eye from time to time, twitches an ear occasionally and licks her lips. Otherwise, she is content just to be, a study in insouciant almost comfortableness.
But let me not get ahead of myself. I arose this morning to the gentle honking of Dick, who was giving his customary running commentary on what he was sieving out of his water tray. Poppy had fetched her blue cushion, arranged it in front of Dick’s cage and was lying comfortably on it, quietly watching him, with her chin resting on her paws. Boggle greeted me with a whistle and blew me a kiss, and then resumed his early morning routine, which involves climbing all over his rope swing in a lecherous fashion, while telling the world what a handsome bird he is.
While I cleaned out Dick’s cage, he splashed happily in his big bowl in the shower. He has almost enough intelligence to remember that the brick I stood next to it makes a handy step for him. It has only been there for a week or so, so some days he scuttles back and forth around the outside of the bowl, tripping over the brick, not quite remembering how useful it can be. Today he was having one of his less intellectual turns, so I had to give him a leg-up. As he dabbled and preened and honked, I decided that a change of water would be in order, but that could wait until after breakfast. After giving him a moment to shake out his wonderfully waterproof feathers, I scooped him into my arms to take him upstairs.
Poppy waited patiently while I cut up some lettuce and other salad scraps for Dick. She tries very hard to like whatever food we give him, so as not to feel left out. Last week, she stole several pieces of melon skin, took them to her astroturf mat and munched her way through them, pretending they were rather thin green, juicy, melon-flavoured bones. This morning, she nibbled briefly on a piece of lettuce before tucking into her own bowl of dog food. By this time, the kettle had boiled, and a mug of tea was beckoning, thanks to the lovely Geoff.
After a few scorching weeks, we have had some rain recently, and the countryside around us is looking greener. The temperatures have settled at a more comfortable level, and this morning there was a pleasant breeze, making the roof terrace a very inviting spot for breakfast. Maroma reclined under a clear blue sky, with the sun creating interesting shadows in the deep crevices on her flanks. It will be a while before she has snow on her belly again. As we sat in the morning sunshine, my beloved and I watched the dog and the duck happily doing their own respective things, munched our cereal, drank our tea, and chatted about nothing in particular.
The roof terrace garden has been rearranged since Dick arrived on the scene. He has a penchant for flowers, and will rip into anything that takes his fancy, seemingly unable to understand any form of command or discipline we have tried to dissuade him. In the end, I decided I would just have to raise anything delicate off the ground, and constructed a rather Heath Robinson dresser out of pots and racillones and bricks, to keep my plants out of his voracious reach.
I should think that at least 70% of the plants on the dresser are happy accidents, gifts or cuttings. Tiny fluffy orange flowers have appeared on a succulent that I had expected to do nothing until next spring. The plant comes from a small piece that was lying on the gravel drive at one of Geoff’s gigs. It is in a pot with another plant with similar provenance. They are surrounded by pieces of various succulents and pelargoniums, lavenders and plumbago. Potted into old mugs, pots and containers, they are a riot of begged, stolen and borrowed mementos of gigs, dog walks, house-sittings, visits to friends and outings.
The pepper plant tied to the outside of the railings is making good progress, laden with peppers, which are gradually changing colour. A couple of tomato plants that appeared in the tub with my stephanotis are bearing fruit, and the beetroot in the window box are slowly swelling. My Easter cactus, recently re-potted, is sprouting new leaves, and a very pretty flowering succulent has colonised the pot in which we almost drowned the fuchsia.
Fecundity – I love it!
While I took a few photographs, Poppy moved from her piece of Astroturf, to take up yet another uncomfortable-looking position, wedged around and between the legs of the table. Dick continued his investigations behind the flowerpots, chortling with glee at each new piece of fallen leaf or tasty mud.
Geoff sat sanding some seat backs ready for re-varnishing, while I admired him, the plants, the creatures, the fabulous view and Dick’s rather excellent, triangular ducky foot-prints. He makes these as he paddles through whatever he last spilled on the floor. Each knobbly-knuckled toe is faithfully replicated, and his busy but pointless meanderings temporarily documented, until the next time he knocks over the water bowl and washes them away.
It is hard not to be inspired to count your blessings when such peaceful domesticity and natural beauty surrounds and embraces you, your beloved, your growing menagerie and your lovely cup of tea!