Saturday, 30 March 2019

Time for a change

The last 3 months seem to have passed chaotically but with little change of any real significance. Unlike last year there has been repetition and distraction but little drama. Hardly any real winter weather with an absence of snow, frost and cold. Neither wet nor dry, the season has past surprisingly uneventfully. There has been wind - lots of it, but even that rather like in other aspects of our life has been "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing".

Encouraged by the absence of winter, nature joined the chaos with snowdrops running riot then disappearing as rapidly and completely as they burst into life. The statistically unusual but now unsurprising 'record-breaking' warmth of late February prompted the daffodils to burst into equally early bloom.

These too were not long for this world and are now almost history, with camelias and forsythia in hot pursuit.

So now what? Officially winter is now past and spring has been confirmed. But as with the world outwith our beautiful little Norfolk bubble, has anything really changed? Well with the weather, possibly. We shall see. It's a new month on Monday - as Flanders & Swann so perceptively noted all those years ago, "April brings the sweet spring showers, On and on for hours and hours!"

As for the wider world, I am yet to be convinced that change is that close. All one can say with any certainty is that in time, at least, we move forwards tonight, and for that I am grateful.

Monday, 7 January 2019

The sound of birds

It's grey in Norfolk just now and we're at one of the days that is singled out as a low point of the year. Apparently yesterday, January 6th, is not only when we take the decorations down but also, somewhat soberingly, is statistically the day the most people die – if you read the Telegraph. Other statistics are available but when you put this alongside stories about what the most depressing day is - although how this can be identified is beyond me - you might be forgiven for not feeling upbeat just now.

But put your nose outside and whilst it's maybe a little early to be full of the joys of spring just listen and look. Even though we haven't had much winter the birds are out and being busy. Any feeder seems to be overflowing with small birds, all looking full of life. Blue tits, Great tits, Long-tailed tits - you name them - there they are. Robins are singing, Blackbirds are busy nest prospecting, Pigeons are back apparently doing what pigeons do mostly and the Rooks are starting to remind us they're there.

The lengthening of daylight is barely perceptible and yet the birds' biological clocks clearly know. Maybe if we didn't have our obsession with statistics, we too, might be out and about doing rather than contemplating darkness and cold.

Nearly 120 years ago at the start of the twentieth century, one of my favourite poets, Thomas Hardy, wrote one of my favourite poems, The Darkling Thrush, evoking the sound of a bird singing at just this point in the year, prompted apparently by

Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
      And I was unaware.