Over recent days Malcolm has been kept under close observation. He has spent some days trying to restore his timbered deck to a reasonable state. Since there has elapsed a couple (ahem!) of years since he last undertook the task, it has been a trial of scrubbing and rubbing.
All the time the real owner of the estate has watched and kept order. The landlord is, as previous postings here have noted, Erithacus rubecula, a.k.a. Robin Redbreast, or, as known in Redfellow Hovel, Mr Cook.
Just as Kipling had his old Mus’ Hobden, so Malcolm’s task-master is the latest in a dynasty which has overseen his digging, delving, weeding and planting these thirty years. And Mr Cook is never short of advice and a sharp chirrup of direction. If the worms unearthed are not of sufficient quality, Mr Cook makes his views known on a face-to-face basis.
For several days of late, Mr Cook was showing signs of harassment. He has been a slim facsimile of his usual plump self (as above). He flitted repetitively between the squirrel-proofed (Hah! as if!) bird-feeder and the depths of the viburnum bush.
Then, last Thursday, something marvellous.
Mr Cook had in tow a disorderly, unkempt fledgeling, feathers all akimbo.
Within an arm’s reach of Malcolm’s labours, Mr Cook introduced his offspring to self-feeding. Mouth open, In goes nut. Now do it yourself.
By the weekend there was a second fledgeling. The feathers were now somewhat more spruce (“You’re not going out of the house looking like that!”). The flying bit had been mastered rather better, too.
So, it looks as if another spring has come and gone. The Black Cat from down the road has been seen off for another season. The natural order prevails.