While doing some tidying up of our backyard, I spotted a nest high up in our scruffy copper beech. I wonder if it’s our resident blackbird family’s nest from last season? It might be too small (the actual size is smaller than it looks in this photo) for a brood of blackbirds, and set too high up. Blackbirds prefer to nest lower down. Maybe it’s a riorio / grey warbler’s nest? I frequently hear their monotonous little call in our trees – a rain of dropping notes sounding like someone practicing scales on a tin whistle. I have manged to spot the wee bird once or twice, but they are elusive.

Before the world changed, we had planned to be with my brother and my sister in law, holidaying in Taupo. And the week before that, I was invited to attend Matahiwi Marae, along with fellow poets Jenny Powell and Michael O’Leary, to support New Zealand’s current poet laureate, David Eggleton, as he received his tokotoko. Read more about it HERE. The ceremony has now been rescheduled for nearer the end of the year.

Placed on beach-pebble studded doorsteps, two door handles and a lid from a coal range – all rescued from my childhood home before the rest of it disappeared into thin air, all serving as tangible, solid reminders of a past life.

Nests, caves, enclaves, houses, bubbles … plausible descriptions for a life that has telescoped down to the micro, with a whole world becoming contained inside home. How would we cope without the electric jug boiling six times a day for the cups of tea?

I appreciate the fact that outside on our walks, or in the garden, we can note and experience the change of seasons. Autumn carrying on as normal. At least it provides some sense of variety, of change, a reminder that things aren’t static, that there is still flux, still momentum. That time has not actually stopped. It just feels like it has.

I am appreciating domestic order – I can use it to mark time, keep time, make time meaningful. I’m thankful for the floor that needs sweeping, for the laundry that needs dealing to, for the bed that needs made, for my face needing washed, for my teeth that require brushing, for meals to prepare and, yes, for the cups of tea – all these mundane activities interspersed like commas through days that might otherwise feel like blank pages. And I’m grateful for the stay-at-home freedoms – getting into your p.j’s at four o’clock, or staying in bed all day, leaving stuff until tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that …

And I appreciate that through the lock down, I have been able to work with my publishers, The Cuba Press, to ready my book for publication as soon as the coast is clear again. It feels a bit like a spring is bubbling under the surface, ready to burst into the clear. A spring like the one my great-grandmother divined in Ireland, many years ago. At least according to family legend. You’ll be able to read a bit more about it in my book. Soon!

St Kilda – we’re fortunate to have the beach close enough for it to be considered in our neighbourhood and so within walking distance.


Writer from Dunedin, New Zealand.

2 thoughts on “Nestling

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