A welcome visit

Like everyone else in the world, Covid-19 has altered our world. We have socially isolated ourselves since 13 March, which seems like a lifetime ago. A friend who lives in our neighbourhood has stopped by a few times briefly for visits reminiscent of Romeo & Juliette’s balcony scene without the drama. But, aside from those chats, we have interacted with no one other humans beyond the supermarket staff and each other, our darling kitten and nature for the last 8 weeks or so. The uncertainty and weight of these times, along with various reactions to it are, overwhelming at times.

Yesterday, this guy visited one of the feeders we hang from our second-floor flat’s balcony. Our views largely consist of other buildings. But, we are close enough to woodlands that many birds visit our balcony daily. This gorgeous creature is a more recent and our most precious guests.

A family of woodpeckers visited our former flat daily throughout the spring and summer months. Since moving about 1.5 years ago, our only real regret was not seeing or hearing those woodpeckers outside our balcony, despite moving less than ~1 km from our former flat. We’ve missed that family, and their lovely little chirps as they fed on the treats we left for them. The appearance of this guy last week made my heart sing. And, was so utterly random. At one point as I watched the tits and finches feed whilst sipping coffee, he just appeared. Time stopped. And, the weight of the world lifted. For whatever reason, hope was restored. At a time when I needed a reminder of the good in this world, I was reminded that the tiniest of joy can and often do appear when you least expect them.

Yesterday, Woody — because all woodpeckers are ‘Woody’ to us — showed up to delight The Cuban, who quietly gasped, quickly ran to grab our fancy-ass camera and then crept as close as he could to snap this and many more pics. The look of pure delight on his face nearly made me cry.

Moments like these are so, so precious. And, we are beyond grateful for them. I’ll be taking a few moments each day now to simply sit at our table stare out the window and watch the birdies. No wonder Pollito Pito Frito Fu does this daily.

Covid-19 has not impacted us directly. The curve here in Helsinki and Finland remains relatively flat. But, since most of our families and friends are scattered across this world and far from us, we feel that distance more acutely these days. As accustomed to this as we are, the knowledge that we can do absolutely nothing to help those we love or be there for them is crushing. At least we have the technology now to stay in touch with everyone. And, to share our concern, unease and uncertainty as well as our hope with all those we hold near and dear as well as all of you.

Solidarity, y’all. Be safe and be well. And, thank you for sharing your views from across this gorgeous world. We are all in this together

Homage to the Annoying Bird of Spring

The first signs of spring in the far North are not green shoots peeping through on their way to becoming tulips or daffodils. Nor are they the green buds of new leaves popping out on the long-barren trees. Nope. We await the first calls of what we have come to know as the ‘annoying* bird of spring’.

When we lived in Moscow, some time in late February as the days grew noticeably longer and the sun finally peeped through the clouds after months of darkness and persistent snowfall, we would hear the call outside our flat. Our first reaction was invariably, ‘Was it…? Could it be’?! Then, we’d hear it loud and clear and know that all would once again be right in the world and the snow would eventually stop falling. The call was annoying in its repetition. And, annoying because we had no idea what the bloody bird looked like. Try as we might to find the annoying bird of spring upon hearing its signal of hope, we failed.

When we moved to Helsinki and landed our lovely flat in a wooded area with plenty of birds about, we were delighted to discover the call of the annoying bird of spring once again after one of the hardest winters we’d ever endured. It wasn’t so much that winter was colder than Moscow or that there was more snow; it is simply infinitely darker than anything we’d ever thought possible. The sound of our old friend delighted us no end, and told us we had survived. Spring was on its way finally and the darkness would give way to sunshine, green leaves and the long days of summer.

Yet, we still were unable to see the owner of that annoying, yet welcomed call year after year. ‘We hear you’, we would cry to our friend. ‘But, what do you look like?!’

My darling husband in particular has been obsessed with discovering the identity of that great signaler of spring. As his obsession was reaching epic proportions, I heard the most delighted shout, ‘I found it! The annoying bird of spring! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!’

Thanks to the a series by the BBC, Lolo’s Secret Life of Birds, and after close to five years, we’ve finally discovered the identity of our fowl, feathered friend.

We give you, the great tit.

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The incredible irony is that on any given day, many of these lovely little creatures can be found perched on our very own balcony greedily claiming their treats from our bird feeder. A few days ago, I looked out and there were no less than seven of the cheeky little buggers sat along the railing!

All this time, what we assumed were finches were in actuality our beloved annoying birds of spring! To us, the great tit will always be the annoying bird of spring. And, its song will always bring a smile to our faces. But, its nice to know its true identity.

*NB: We don’t actually think this bird is annoying in any way. In fact, we love this bird and its song in particular.