SOMETIMES the most simple pleasures in life contain the most significance - particularly at this time of year, as we reflect on the passing of 2017 and what is to come in 2018.

'Consider the lillies,' as Jesus said, 'how they grow; they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say to you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.'

You don't have to be religious to see the truth in this early form of mindfulness. A simple flower can be more meaningful than all the statements put out by a government in a year.

This week we report on the changing face of the Scottish garden due to human activity. There is more truth about the world in which we live to be seen among the birds in your garden, than there is to be found in any political party manifesto.

Where once we saw thrushes and sparrows in our gardens, today we see the suitably dark shapes of magpies and crows. The simple, child-like past-time of staring out of the window and watching the birds in your garden reveals a terrible truth about the world and what humanity has done to it in so short a space of time.

In half the span of the average life, our rapaciousness has changed the wildlife that live within touching distance. One wonders if we had slowed our lives down and spent more time looking at the world around us might we not have spotted a portent of the dangerous future we were heedlessly creating.