Day 44

The sunlight of recent weeks has been a boon, but these darker days are more in tune with the current mood. Are they reflective of it, or the cause of the recent shift in humour?

I realise that the lowering clouds, the loss of the greater space beyond, is matched by the thickening of leaves on the trees. Beautifully green and full as they are, for example, the hawthorn bowed with May blossom, the filling out of trees also narrows any available perspective.

When the rain comes, it comes hard and heavy. It is sharp on the window, almost a clattering, almost icy. In the lane loose stones, previously strung out in long trails by the occasional passing vehicle, are swept up and driven downhill. The dust coagulates into mud, collects at the bottom of the fast-formed puddles, is left in sticky heaps when the rainwater has drained.

A female blackbird, (a lively brown creature) lowers itself into the centre of a puddle and uses its wings to splash water droplets on its back, ducks forward and scoops up water onto the back of its head. When the burst of rain has passed the songs of blackbirds are the first heard. The rain is welcome.

April has passed in a blur of statistics and official announcements that announce no material change from the previous official announcements. The government graph does not describe some Swiss mountain to tunnel through to sunny uplands, as the Blonde Buffoon blusters, but represents a wave of accumulating lost lives. Each passing life sends out ripples that will eventually touch us all.

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Christopher Perry

30th April, 2020

Day 43

Light levels are lowered by the thick cloud cover. All the bright colours of spring flowers are needed now to attract pollen carriers. The warmth of the past week coaxed a greater variety of bees outside. They are most welcome.

This morning along the coast road the marshes are witness to a fierce exchange between a peewit and a crow. The crow will not move away from the nesting area, despite the mobbing from the ground-nesting bird. It is more determined to pursue this target, rather than move on, as a buzzard might.

On the sea side of the reed beds I can see the shadow of a marsh harrier sweeping and turning just a few metres above the ground, always flying close to the top of the reeds. This flight pattern means it will come across potential prey suddenly, giving it a good chance of capturing food, without having to drop too far to catch anything it finds. 

The three greylag geese are still by the raised bank watching over the flightless goslings. 

The showers have played havoc with a cherry tree heavy with blossom. There is a drift of pink petals piled in the gutter, but my eye is caught by a light blue, speckled egg from which a chick has hatched. I am surprised that this pale blue is so easily seen. Why are some birds’ eggs so brightly coloured, so easy to see?

Further on there are six, or seven woolly calves wandering in a small paddock with their mothers. That is not a field one should enter carelessly. I am reminded of a walker, out with his family, killed in Sussex last year by a cow protecting her calf.

My son in China is working long hours teaching on-line, so it is lovely to hear from him as he ponders what to get his brother for his forthcoming birthday. Before I have had a thought on the matter he resolves the problem himself. 

Christopher Perry

29th April, 2020

Day 40

Whoa! A premature summer’s day has been delivered to our doorstep, without a knock. No wind, not a breath. 

I step out. All I can hear is the sound of my flip-flops flick-flacking down the lane and bees buzzing. The birds are drowsy in this unfamiliar heat. Sparrows offer desultory cheeps from the dusty roadside.

On my way back up the hill from the shop, a blackbird flies with full-beak into its nest under the guttering of the old brick and flint-work barn. Heavy-cable nylon netting has been positioned to catch loose tiles and falling stones from the crumbling structure. The blackbirds have improvised their home behind a point when the netting drapes over the lip of the roof. The nest is easily visible, but seems sound. To get in the blackbird has to land and then manoeuvre through the webbing. From the inside it will be easy to defend.

The barn has been bought by a middle-aged couple with a plan to convert it into something more solid. Do they know the story of the night when one of the heavy oak doors broke from its hinges and killed a local man who was trying to secure the building? His son still lives in a house directly across the lane from the scene. The building looks no more solid, nor safe today. It has bowing walls, a sagging roof; it has lost all thought of maintaining an upright status.

There are plenty of fledgling robins about. At the bird feeder a blood-orange red-chested brute of a youngster stands dumbly waiting to be fed by its slighter parent. This young robin might bounce better than fly. A couple of days ago I pulled up a metre short of a tiny robin that I thought was injured in the road. It miraculously remembered that it could fly just as I made to move it to safety.

In a neighbour’s front garden an explosion of fighting. Two small birds scrap violently. Face- to-face with sputtering wings, they rise straight-up, up higher than the house, fighting all the way and then all the way back to the grass. A few moments later another outburst, but with less altitude needed to settle the row. Dunnocks squaring up to each other, perhaps.

I step out again late into dusk. Bats are scything through the air, visible in fleeting glimpses. As they turn the fast movement of their wings makes them disappear. It is impossible to double guess the path they will take in this grey light.

Around the small green there is a collection of cats. I count nine of various sizes and ages. In one spot there are five. They squat down almost nose to nose. I did not know there were so many in the whole village. How far have they travelled to this place? This is a special gathering. A coven? Are they plotting revenge on whoever it was that ran down one of their number on the coast road? There may be more. Some are posted on gate posts as look-outs. One watches from a utility vehicle parked by the café. 

Bats, cats, but not a soul in sight. Where are the women of the village this evening? I see television lights flickering on living room walls, but these spaces seem empty. Is there a meeting on Gallow Hill? Or is this them, the collection of whispering cats?

The cats are situated close to the red phone box that was re-painted yesterday by a man in white overalls. The box now houses an Automated External Defibrillator. These pieces of kit have appeared all over the country in recent years. Has one ever been used to any effect? They are an apparently good idea that makes no sense when considered more deeply. A paramedic has all the kit necessary and the training to use one, but the general public not so, even if someone were considerate enough to have their heart failure in the immediate vicinity. However, the money is raised as a good cause, the machines are placed, repaired, re-placed. Good works that make the fund-raisers feel good regardless of the wasteful use of time and effort. I saw one sited at a corner of a busy junction in central London once. Dusty with diesel smuts and out of reach of most. How will that machine help a cyclist crushed by a lorry turning left, (the most likely incident at that location)?

The newly minted moon is a sliver of sharp light. Lower in the sky than Venus, the Moon and her companion seem to be going against the grain, joining a line to the south-east, rather than north-west. It is a trick on the eye; their descent is in parallel, not a linear path.

The air has changed during the day. It feels like I am home on the south coast. There is humidity on the evening breeze. A south-westerly will bring rain in coming days. I am happy to feel its gentle approach.

I look forward to hearing your voice again after this self-imposed electronic purdah. I am grateful for this time, but has it only been a couple of days?

.

Christopher Perry

26th April, 2020

On the Inside

Thoughts held tight

Multiply in solitude’s echo chamber

These flies hatch from eggs laid deep

Kept cool by winter

Until Spring’s first warmth seeps in

Here they are

Buzzing, banging on glazing

Repeating knock out blows

Frenzied attempts to pass the glass

Crashing time after time

Despite concussive impacts

Leaving sickness, giddiness

Confusion.

.

See the window is open!

Let them fly free

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n.b. We are not alone.

CLP 25/03/2020