An avian visitor and a lament for a tree

Driving up my road this morning after my usual Friday outing (therapist, coffee and crossword, charity shop browsing, swim) I braked as a jay, splendid in brown, blue, black and white, flew low across the road straight in front of my car. I pulled in quietly so I could watch him bob about in a neighbour’s front garden, then when I lost sight of him I drove the last few yards and parked.

As I sat listening to the last strains of Bryan Ferry’s idiosyncratic take on Positively 4th Street (currently playing in my car: ‘Dylanesque’, Ferry’s album of Dylan covers), I saw in the rear mirror my husband’s unmistakable orange van drawing up behind me. As I got out and waved at him, he pointed over to the front of our house, where the jay was now rooting around in the ivy. He clearly got something, as he then flew off and settled on our wall to devour it.

Before our ornamental cherry tree died, killed off in a dry summer by the huge viburnum planted (not by us), too close to it the jay – I like to think it was the same one – was an annual visitor to it when it was in its flame-red autumn glory (the tree that is, not the jay, who is glorious all year). His visit now reminds me of the sadness of black, lifeless branches in spring when there should have been a positively Liberacean display of huge pink blossoms. However, The Grouch kept the wood after chopping down the dead tree, and has promised to make a fire surround from it when we redecorate our lounge and put a new fire in. That will be classy: a fireplace of cherry wood from our own garden!