Vessel of Song.
Spring walks into summer and, confined to our very small radiuses, it feels like we are walking with it; noticing some advancement or small incremental change each day. We delve and settle deeper. On the longest day, the song thrush that has been singing as long as the daylight lasts, every day since the days began lengthening from the Winter Solstice, right through to the Summer one, has barely stopped. He has been putting in longer and longer hours, with rarely a pause, with his sweet, rich, loud and carrying voice. Since March, I feel I have heard every note uttered. Today, he has sung from 4.30 until 10.23, just 6 too-dark minutes shy of 18hrs.
There is a baby thrush outside my writing hut. It has some of its adult bouncing confidence as it hops across the grass, but is a little slow to scurry under the hedge when a door bangs, or the shadow of a buzzard passes over. It still has a bright yellow gape, some tufty head feathers and a short stubby tail. But its golden spotted breast is all thrush, and when it pauses, head cocked to one side at something I have not seen, I am filled with such a tender feeling for this little, feathered, syrup jar of sustained and liquid song. A vase full of mid-winter carolling, that will begin on our shortest day and carry through and beyond our longest.
I get a call from a neighbour. Thousands of tiny frogs are on migration, set off by the rain. ‘They’re no bigger than a blue bottle and are going like soldiers across the road’ he says. We go to see, and it is exactly so. The wet tarmac that divides the big lake from a wood of wet logs, leaves and sanctuary is seething with tiny frogs, no bigger than my little fingernail.
The migration continues into the following day when there is a thunderstorm. House martins and swallows swoop low before it, hawking insects rising before the rain. They are joined by a sudden emergence of exotic-looking scarlet and garden tiger moths, their cream spotted wings flared to reveal flamenco underwings against the slate sky.
Down the grassy tracks, there are orchids, wild privet blossom, singing blackbirds and sparrows dust-bathing in family groups. Another song thrush. I think of Thomas Hardy’s birds singing ‘as if all time were theirs’ and when they were nothing, a few months ago, but ‘particles of grain, and earth, and air, and rain’.
On the vergeside, teasels spike the air, carding the wool of the clouds with promises of chinking goldfinch currency, late summer. I rattle that thought around like loose change jangling in my pocket.