In between the squally showers that we are enjoying in August, I crunch down the path to the washing line with a basket. It is a tedious task. The house has been full this summer and the laundry is constant. The washing machine complains and rocks when it spins; invisible parts grind and groan - it is on its last legs. As am I, I think. Until I remember that I haven't scrubbed and rinsed and mangled any of this by hand, as my grandmother would have done.
This morning I paused by the giant sunflower which has seeded itself from the bird feeders and watched a wren creep up its thick, hairy stem, picking and pecking at the tiny mites and spiders. She was so confident that she moved on to the sweet pea tower. I could see her fierce beak and bright eye. Every tawny colour and stripe was clear, especially that russet tail angling away from her body, as she quickly explored the pea vines and flowers. The wren is a scurrying bird, often seen dashing across the road and disappearing into the safety of the hedge, like a fizzing, busy mouse. And so I focused tightly and totally. To the right, a huge pink hebe has taken over one of the beds; this morning it was buzzing with furry bees. I stood still and breathed deeply, engrossed in the tiny things. The beauty of holidays is not that the chores go away, but that there is also time to stop and notice. There is time to breathe and think, and time to acknowledge and celebrate the secret life that is always busy around us.