I sit under an Oak tree close to home, a favourite of mine. It’s a tall oak, but not particularly old. On a sunny day, like today, it makes a great spot to sit. A cushion of moss layers the ground underneath it, making the perfect seat. Will you join me?
As I relax, I feel its gnarled bark nestling into my back, and the cool air against my neck. The sun is high in the sky, a bright, crisp light illuminating the ground in front of me. As I sit, I watch the scene in front of me come to life.
Straight ahead, through a wall of trees, a Blackbird catches my eye. It is balancing on a clump of Ivy, repeatedly poking its bright orange bill at the last of the berries on offer. A Robin joins the picture, jumping up on a small grassy bank. With a puffed out chest, it sings a serenade of familiar notes. A wary Jay gives off a cry of alarm in the distance, coarse and shrill. The sound, from deep within the woods, rings out with piercing clarity. I wonder what startled it?
Below, the first Wood Sorrel wave their white heads in the light breeze. One particular crop has managed to climb upward, hanging from the moss covered bark of a Beech tree, thriving in a patch of sunlight all of its own.
Overhead, crows tangle through the air, ringing out their playful calls. Every now and again, the mew of a Buzzard sounds out from the heavens. Do you hear it?
On the ground beside me, a bumblebee hurries past busily. The sunlight invigorates! I notice a Dor Beetle battling through its towering landscape. I watch it for a while, transfixed. Eventually, it digs itself into the earth and disappears. Gone in a flash. A butterfly lifts my gaze, fluttering low and fast past my face and quickly out of sight. Reminders of autumn are still showing, with a scatter of leaves still covering the ground, but the green fingers of spring are beginning to take the upper hand.
Where I sit will soon be awash with Bluebell flowers, creating a swathe of azure. For now though, shades of green prevail. A patchwork quilt from dark to light, the falling light furthering the visible range.
I close my eyes. Song! Everywhere! A Wren gives off a loud rattling phrase, vibrant and explosive. A Great Tit reels off its see-saw chorus, repeating and repeating. A Chaffinch lets loose it rolling verse with tireless spirit. A Great Spotted Woodpecker joins frequently, with its sharp peep, like a dog let loose with a squeaky toy. Long-tailed Tits add in their thin and restless whistling. The collective chorus is hypnotic.
And then, above it all, I hear it. Do you? The zip-zap of a Chiffchaff. The first of the year! The sound of spring. A rallying cry for change.
Voices close-by lift me from my slumber. I stand up to stretch my legs. As I do, through the trees in the distance I see a Roe Deer bounce away, its white rump shining through the dappled light. I wonder how long it was there for?
I wait until the voices drift away and then take out a photo of you from my pocket and stick it to the tall oak tree with a ball of blu-tack. I return to my mossy seat. I feel your presence resonate within, like a ghost.
With the gathering green around me unfolding and the arrival of the first Chiffchaff, change is buoyant in the air. Through the hive of activity everything is preparing for the coming season. Everything is so alive! Nature is nurturing, mothering. Mother nature. Winter has finally loosened its grip. Spring is in full gear.
I close my eyes again, and think of you. The seamless cycle of life never fails to endure and time, as ever, springs forward.
You would have enjoyed today, I think. I wish you could have joined me! In this chopping sea of life you are always on my mind, but today especially.