On a dreamy Valentine’s Sunday l watched the winter trees through my rain streaked bedroom window.
On a cold, grey winter morning
perched atop a bare tree.
– Melinda Schwakhofer
Do you know that we live in a penthouse flat which overlooks the rooftops and chimney pots of our village? Jackdaws are our nearest neighbours.
They are constantly in pairs, getting together even before they reach sexual maturity and spending their entire lives together. These two are at the entrance to their home just across from our living room window..
On Valentine’s Day, I went to my friend’s arty birthday party and made a love nest for Steve. I began with a cardboard box.
I lined it with fur and made winged hearts for the doors.
I just happened to have a couple of wooden jackdaws at home which I added.
Steve had gone out to watch the Liverpool game that afternoon and we came back home to our love nest at the end of the day, cooked dinner together . . . . . . .
and dined by candlelight with a very nice bottle of Barolo.
BTW, Hasselback potatoes are a Swedish invention, named for the restaurant in Stockholm that introduced them in the 1700s. They’re traditionally comprised of a whole potato that has been peeled and cut to resemble a fan, dotted with butter, baked, and then topped with fine bread crumbs and broiled.
We parboiled some unpeeled Cypriot new potatoes, sliced them nearly, but not all the way, through at ¼ intervals and basted them with butter and goose fat in a hot oven until they were crispy on top and tender inside. Very fancy and yummy for a special dinner.
I hope that you had a lovely day with or without a sweetheart! ❤
About a week ago, I looked out of my living room window and was aghast to see that one of the chimney flues on the house next door had been capped.
They are obviously going to start using one of the fireplaces, but for the past five years that we’ve been living here, two pairs of jackdaws have been living next to us.
I was nearly inconsolable that evening when they were flying in and veering off again. Steve reassured me that they probably have other places to roost. At least they’ll be together, because jackdaws mate for life and always travel in their twosomes.
I went to my Journeying workshop on Saturday which focused on the Spring Equinox. I’ve been going to Journey Round the Year workshops with Louise Page since Samhain last November. They are based in the Celtic tradition, include Shamanic journeys and follow the quarterly and cross-quarterly Earth festivals. The room is always beautifully decorated with an altar at each point of the compass representing each of the four elements. A simpler, seasonal altar is in the centre of the room. Saturday’s altar was adorned with winter jasmine and a posy of primroses, my favourite wildflower.
Many people think that Spring begins on the 21st of March, but my Springtime began when I said ‘Hello. Welcome back!’ to the first wild primroses two weeks ago.
Through the Journeying workshops, one of my intentions has been to meet my Muscogee ancestors. In the Samhain workshop, I met my constant Journeying companion, a Spirit Bird who travels with me , sometimes flying above or ahead to see the way, sometimes staying close, hidden in my hair or in a pocket to keep me company.
We finish each session with the opportunity to make art. Last November, my Spirit Bird flew through the winter landscape.
On Saturday, we journeyed to Eostre, goddess of Spring and rebirth, and the Hare or Rabbit, who guards a nest of eggs, which symbolise what is new and growing. My rabbit was Chufi, the Muscogee Trickster! He led me on a merry chase, through bramble thickets, along tunnels and down holes in the ground! It was like a high speed Easter egg hunt. I finally came upon a nest with three eggs, but what they contain is a mystery, for now.
During the creative time at the end of the day, I made a nest with three eggs. It is the Easter nest and a nest for my Spirit Bird to reside in. When I was finished, I added a pair of hearts. For the two jackdaws who lived next to us.
I got up early today and saw the pair who still live next door. I’m happy that they remain a constant in my life. They represent Together and Home. I am very grateful for my home base from which to journey, both inward and outward. With the days lengthening and the Earth energy rising, I find myself looking ahead and deciding which seeds to plant and nurture over the coming weeks and months.
The morning sky reminded me of the many journeys taking place, everywhere. Blessings on your travels, explorations and discoveries.
A pair of jackdaws
after a day
in silvery flight.
– Melinda Schwakhofer, 2012