Some lover of nature, humanity, God or all three has set a clump of snowdrops between the fast Eurostar line to France and the old mainline from Ashford to Folkestone. Just a glimpse as we speed by, most will not notice, I too often miss them – but there they are, and beautiful they are, even from a distance. A promise that will be kept.
These, with their rubbish, were at Aylesham station, not far away.
The scattering of white feathers showed where a black-headed gull had been killed; the corpse lay a couple of feet away, the breast picked almost clean by the second bird, the sparrowhawk who has become quite familiar in this part of town. Satisfied with its meal, it had flown away already.
The third bird was totally unconcerned by this drama, and a real surprise on Abbot’s Hill. Sitting on a stump nearby: a smart, robin-like creature which was indeed a stonechat. I don’t recall seeing one locally before but he was singing as if he owned the place and had no intention of going west to the old brown hills. I feel sure he will though.
It’s a warm wind, the west wind, full of birds’ cries; I never hear the west wind but tears are in my eyes. For it comes from the west lands, the old brown hills. And April’s in the west wind, and daffodils.
Walking up to Church this morning we saw the first tips of pussy willow and of course the hazel was bright in the hedgerow, lambs’ tails shaking themselves out before the real lambs are allowed in the fresh air – but that won’t be long now!
As Father Boniface pronounced, basking in the sun, ‘I think we can say that Spring is here! They’re silent now – it was 11.30 – but this morning they were in full throat!’
I’ve not heard that expression for a while. Enjoy the Spring!
I probably should not take my mobile phone to church on a Sunday, though 90% of the time I remember to silence it – and then forget to turn the rings on again afterwards, so receive no messages.
However, the gadget serves to record, once in a while, the glories of what I might otherwise miss. This third-rate photo just gives the impression of scarlet pimpernel and purple grass heads taking over some bare soil at the top of the hill. Almost an abstract.
Lovely enough to say, ‘Good Morning Life, and all things glad and beautiful.’ (WH Davies).
Next day, somewhat dispiritedly riding home in the rain, I spotted maybe a hundred starlings, adults and juveniles, enjoying the downpour because it was bringing worms and leatherjackets to the surface of the park. Would I have noticed them if they’d been quiet? Maybe not, but they are incapable of staying quiet! ‘Good Morning Life, and all things glad and beautiful.’
It feels as though Will Turnstone has been hibernating these last few weeks. Did he notice the blackheaded gull in full plumage out there on Valentine’s day? He did, but did not tap the keys. Nor did he tap the keys for the wren that disappeared behind an ivy leaf at his approach, the goldcrest opposite the kitchen window, the bluetit possibly prospecting the nest box used last year; Br’er Fox crossing his and Mrs T’s path at 6.00 in town; the rainbows that punctuated recent showers – a gift from the low-shining sun; the lapwings, redshanks, pochard, and others at Rye, in the company of Mrs T; the daffodils wide awake for Saint David’s Day on March 1st. But be sure that he did indeed notice them and rejoice.
We buried our friend Mrs O a few days ago. She had a good send-off, the church comfortably full. I was comforted an hour earlier, to see a rainbow, arched over her house as the rain drifted away into the North Sea. A promise that she will not perish! And the thrush and blackbird were singing.
‘Safe’ by Mary Webb.
Under a blossoming tree
Let me lie down,
With one blackbird to sing to me
In the evenings brown.
Safe from the world’s long importunity –
The endless talk, the critical, sly stare,
The trifling social days – and unaware
Of all the bitter thoughts they have of me,
Low in the grass, deep in the daisies,
I shall sleep sound, safe from their blames and praises.
That is one of Mrs Turnstone’s favourite poems.
This particular rainbow over Mrs O’s house occurred a few years ago.
Looking back along the canal from the bridge, only the well-laid path hints at the urban sprawl we started from. Had we continued walking toward that cloudy Western sky, we’d soon have been grateful for the shelter of another bridge, but
our walk away from the waterway passes these stone buildings – I have seen their like in Southern Ontario.
The lane soon meets a main road; we cross it and make for the Lodge.
Quite different in style! This was the entrance to the big estate around which the Heriot Watt University was built.
The woods, with their rhododendrons and foxgloves, hide the buildings where graduands have worked and played for four years. Their families are celebrating and enjoying Scotland, even if they have to wrap up warm to photograph their loved one with the piper.
Our guide led us to a quiet corner of the campus, shared with oystercatchers, busily hunting worms inland. The rain had brought the worms to the surface, and now down it came again! No chance to sit on that inviting bench, so past a wet Watt, and into the hall to await the graduation ceremony. Well done, HDGB!