Thursday, 4 November 2010


Gardeners know that, as you dig down comes the robin. For sure, that robin's mostly interested in the worms and grubs you're turning up - with the prospect of goodies from the earth. But he's also a friend - we feel joined in our labour by part of nature.

The robin lives in our garden because it's managed. We turn the soil unearthing food, we build sheds to nest in, we plant trees and bushes to roost in and, when the weather's bad we put down food. And that robin thrives - along with his brother, the blackbird and cousin, the wren. It's worth coping with the cat to live in a place of abundance.

This symbiosis - our pleasure for the robin's food and shelter - is central to our relationship with nature. It isn't the relationship of the 'bunny-hugger' - oo-ing and ah-ing at the pretty birds. The robin isn't an especially friendly chap but an aggressive, territorialist. Woe betide any other robin that wanders onto his patch!

No, this is a symbiosis of appreciation and recognition, of impermanence, of interdependency and, at the bottom, self-interest.


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