Our garden has achieved a near-perfect balance between weeds and cultivation. Bhawana and Śraddhā Jyoti brought in two big tubs of fresh strawberries yesterday evening. The apple trees have got plenty of fruit on, but show no signs of bending after last year’s pruning. A cat has moved into the long grass growing in front of the house—perhaps hunting the fieldmice? or the occasional rabbit?— and there are a few unusual weeds out there. We’ve actually got a well-established ant colony, though only in the west-facing garden; it’s just too cold anywhere else. The Buddleia still hasn’t really taken off; but the Himalaya Birch trees, savagely attacked by caterpillars, were rescued by sparrows who came and ate most of them. The Orange Hawkbit has taken off in the back, and the Tansies are thriving. The real reward: tonight a bat, probably a pipistrelle, came and hunted happily for about a half-hour. When we first arrived here I remember the occasional bat would pass by our garden and given it one or two disdainful loops; now we’re good for quite a few plump moths and beetles and a good long stay.
Compared to the riotous biodiversity of a ranch in the California hills, with hundreds of bird species to choose from, or the nocturnal acoustic chaos of Nepal, it’s not much. Every day I look out from this place and see, very clearly, that Aberdeen is a frightened, brutally industrial city in the far north of the world, politically sterile, cold and sullen and not much given to life. The trees in summer scramble to get their leaves out before the bitter blasts return. But for a cool grey summer’s evening in a cold, barren place, a good harvest of strawberries and one happy bat is adequate riches.