Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Abstract Landscape Painter.  Rural Dweller.  Lover of Modernist Art and Design.

Time In A Bottle (or maybe a box)

Last week I had to do something that I really didn’t want to do but, like events that I sometimes dread going to, it turned out to be a real pleasure.  In fact, more than that - a gem of a moment.

Millie (our whippet) woke me at 5.40am as she needed the loo.  I dragged myself out of bed, pulled on a jumper, some trousers and a pair of wellies, and prepared to take her outside into the garden.  When I stepped outside into the maritime twilight, I was stunned by the volume and variety of the birdsong.

We were staying in Gloucestershire for a few days and the garden that I stepped out into is one of 55 acres, set on the edge on a tiny Cotswold village.  There are hundreds of trees in the surrounding parkland, many of which must be approaching 50m tall, together with dense areas of hedge and shrubbery.  A slope, from where I was standing, descends gradually down to a river flowing through one side of the garden.

The night had been foggy and at 5.45am the mist was just beginning to lift from the tops of the trees. In the pearlescent light they looked as if they were shedding gauzy, white gowns.  It’s fair to say that I was assailed by the sound as I stepped out of the door.  I have heard the dawn chorus before, but not here and never one so rich with species or lusty in volume.  As well as the robins, wrens, finches, thrushes and blackbirds, I could hear pheasants joining in from the fields and copses beyond the garden.  It was as if every winged creature was singing to its full capacity.

I returned Millie to her bed when her ablutions were complete and stepped outside again to savour a few more moments standing on the lawn in the centre of the singing.  It was made more special by being there alone (as much as I love my dog) in that stillness and mysterious half-light that twilight provides.  I felt like a tiny radio receiver, standing at a point at which all the sound converged - as If I was absorbing it.  As I said, it was a real gem of a moment, one that I would store away, as the old Jim Croce song says, in a bottle, or maybe a box, if I could.  A moment which would be included in “the best bits” compilation of my life.

So thank you Millie, for giving me the impetus to do something that I had wanted to do, even if it did have a rather inauspicious beginning.

Ironically, we were not far from Adlestrop - we passed by it on the way to our destination.  I thought of the poem’s final words and felt as if I had indeed heard “all the birds of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire”.

All text & images ©2016 Carol Saunderson