Lessons From A Thief
August 4, 2020

Tatty chard plants in pot

My pots of chard have baffled me for some time. They grew fast and strong from seeds – but then seemed to stall. Something was eating them.

I investigated the leaves for caterpillars or other bugs – there was nothing there. I invested in organic slug pellets – but that didn’t stop them being decimated.

Every day they became more tattered and I grew more baffled. What was going on?

It got to the point where one day I went out to water the plants and all that was left was a pot of stalks. I couldn’t work it out.

Chard Plant with only stalks left growing in pot

The puzzle of the chard leaves was soon solved when one day I noticed some movement outside the window – a flash of brown. I sidled up to look outside and I caught the chard thieves in action. There were a pair of sparrows tucking into a free lunch.

I shooed them feeling indignant. How dare they! It was good to have solved the conundrum and I had never suspected the sparrows were to blame. But I was annoyed that my weeks of plant-nurturing had been thwarted by these pesky birds.

For a couple of weeks I covered over the pots to protect my precious crop of chard. The plan was to put off the sparrows – my hope was they’d go elsewhere to find food.

It seemed to work and just two weeks later the chard that had been decimated was starting to regrow. I watched in awe as tiny leaves emerged and stretched upwards. It was a miracle. What a wonderful reminder of the natural intelligence of life – the deeper intelligence that heals and grows. We too are all part of that deeper awareness and intelligence – it was like my chard plant was reminding me.

Pot of chard stalks that have been eaten

My sense of victory was short lived. Yesterday, I felt a strong urge to go and be in the garden. I wasn’t sure why, I just felt drawn to leave the computer and be amongst the bees, plants, flowers (and weeds). As I got to the window I paused – there was a flit of movement out there. The sparrows were back.

This time I had no compulsion to bang on the window, instead I watched transfixed as they balanced on the stems and pecked at the leaves. There were four of them in total. Maybe this was a young family.

The entertainment lasted for 10 minutes – it was captivating. They bounced on the plant, on the bench, in the honeysuckle – totally absorbed in their world. They were beautiful and intricate beings and I smiled inwardly.

This time I was pleased that they were tucking in and I felt blessed that I was able to watch them. I fell in love with the moment, being with them in their world and observing them dance their song amongst the chard.

I love this reminder of the neutrality of thought. One day the sparrows are intricate dancers the next a pest. One day my chard is ‘mine’ the next it is belongs to no-one.

I also love to be reminded of the sheer pleasure and simplicity that is under our nose in nature, if we just take a moment to witness it.

Who’d of thought I’d learn so much from a pot of chard.

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About Inner Compass

Liz Scott & Stu Newberry are trainers, coaches and speakers. They work with individuals and groups across the UK. They also help develop coaching cultures (founded on wellbeing) within schools and organisations.

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