Scottish Christine has offered to give me a lift to Pulborough Brooks, the venue for this month’s Birdy Group meet-up.
name is not actually “Scottish Christine”but I call her that to differentiate her from all the other Christines we know. Christine must have been a popular name among the Classes of the Forties. Among the other Christines of our acquaintance is
“Choir Christine”, who is a member of our Singing for Pleasure Choir. Unfortunately she is one of two Christines who sing in the Choir, but I have resolved this little problem by calling the other one “Marine Christine” because
she organised our recent visit to the Portsmouth base of the Royal Marines Band. It’s easy when you know how.
Also accepting a lift from Scottish Christine
was Lovely Linda, who has said she will always give me a lift whenever I need one (presumably if Scottish Christine is away or indisposed.) She is sitting in the passenger seat and directs Scottish Christine the long way round to Pulborough Brooks, on the
basis that if we take the short route we will come up against lengthy delays caused by (i) flooding and / or (ii) road works. I sit in the back seat, spared any responsibility for navigation, and enjoy the ride.
We battle through a short, but sharp, shower on the way and study the clouds overhead, trying to decide whether our two hour walk will be rain-free or wet and windy. In the event we are blessed. The rain holds off for
all but the final quarter of an hour and as we are already well on our way to the comfort of the coffee shop by the time it starts to fall, we all think ourselves lucky.
It has been, a splendid morning. For a long time, we watched a kestrel hovering above us, seeking out prey, then swooping down on some unsuspecting creature in the undergrowth. Above it, an aeroplane, silent in the distance, making
its way to Gatwick. I stand admiring these two birds in flight – one natural, one man-made, and marvel at them both. So transfixed am I that I stumble over my sturdy walking boots and nearly end up in a ditch running alongside a field. It
is a tumble worth taking because there beyond is a herd of fifty, sixty female deer (as in “doe, a deer, a female deer”, you know the song, I‘m sure.) I have never seen quite so many bunched together as if waiting in line for their Zumba
class. A truly magnificent sight. They seem to sense us watching, for they move off slowly, in formation but without any urgency. They know we are admiring them, I am sure.
There is lots of water at Pulborough Brooks but had our visit been timed for a couple of weeks earlier, it would have been even more awash. The ducks are having a field day – wigeon, pintails, shelducks and all the usual suspects.
The Highland cattle are looking a little raggedy but still magnificent. The pheasants come out to watch our progress.
All around us the harbingers of Spring. I
love that word. Harbingers, I mean – through Spring is a lovely word too, of course. Signs of new life are all around us from the primroses struggling to be seen amid the grassy banks to the catkins hanging from the trees like lacy curtains across
the blue sky. Every year, Spring arrives like a miracle, a sudden and welcome surprise. It happens every year but it never fails to fill me with awe.
And up in Ilkley, Yorkshire, in the early hours of yesterday morning another birth – a baby daughter for my dear nephew and his lovely wife. Like the catkins and the primroses, Isla Poppy has arrived with the Springtime,
a new and precious life to be celebrated.
Congratulations, Chris and Emma on your very own Springtime miracle.