Tuesday 14 April 2020

Sheds of grey

In the Comments section of a recent post, Sharon from Tabi's Butterfly Mind sparked a reminiscence of mine of a photograph from the past. In fact, the photo was taken so long ago that I may not have been born yet, or at least too young to pay any attention to what was going on (and, yes, I know, there's a case to be made that I still don't pay enough attention!).

The remembering kicked off a mad scramble through countless piles of photographs (not infinite, I hasten to add, I just didn't count them), looking for the image which was lodged in my head. I also messaged my older brother to see if he had more specific details, as I wasn't completely sure where I thought the photo was taken, never mind when.

All I did know was that the photograph featured one of my parents and a corvid, probably a Jackdaw, and I thought it was taken in the garden of the house where I grew up.

[At this point, please imagine an hour of frantic riffling through umpteen albums, plastic bags and paper folders in the search for said image... ]

When I finally found it, I realised two things simultaneously:

1. My memory was quite accurate;
2. My memory was rather rubbish.

Yes, the photo showed my mum feeding a Jackdaw which was perched on her shoulder, but no, it wasn't taken in a garden at all, it was in a yard. Admittedly, the yard was next to the garden, so the location was now known, but how had I confused brick, slate and stone with grass, shrubs and trees? I did briefly ponder whether there's another photo, this time from the garden, but I didn't have the spoons for yet more riffling.

Big Bro came up trumps too. He confirmed the location and remembered the bird being in a back room with some Zebra Finches, not in the same cage, one presumes. Now, the finches I do recall, but not the Jackdaw.

So, what can we deduce from the evidence? Our parents moved to this house in 1959, two years before I was born. Let's be generous with Young Tense and assume that I would likely remember stuff from, say, maybe four years of age? That puts the time frame between 1959 and 1965. Now, I have absolutely no recollection of Jackdaws nesting in the garden, but the house was a big, old, sandstone property with at least eight chimney flues, only one of which was regularly in use. So, conceivably, the Jackdaws may have nested in one or more of those. Then it is not a huge leap to the possibility of a chick or fledgling falling down said chimney and needing rescue. And I would definitely say that this is a young bird. The other possibility is that the nest could have been in a hole of one of the several old trees which lined the lane up to the village. Perhaps the youngster fell out of that onto the road to be spotted by a passing pedestrian?

What else can we infer from the photo? Well, Mum loved nature, so she would've been tickled pink to be this close and involved with a wild creature (although presumably it was quite tame for a while).

And that wooden door? It was the loo. Unheated, unlit (save for a small skylight) and very much not indoors. The storage shed next to it contained a barrel of paraffin for lamps which were used to keep water pipes from freezing in the loo and also to heat a greenhouse. Out of shot to the left of that was the coal shed, where I was allowed to chop sticks. Yeah, I couldn't have a bike, they were too dangerous, but here, son, make yourself useful with this axe!


SharonLarkin said...

now I have serious corvid-envy!

Imperfect and Tense said...

When I worked at OZ Yard in Stromness, the Rooks were sometimes my only company. I'm sure most of what they were saying was humorous banter about my recycling skills, and it's likely that they knew what I was thinking before I said it!