Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.
When I lived in Dolphin Square years ago I had a flat that overlooked the extensive courtyard garden complete with water feature and an avenue of trees. It felt very hemmed in there; after all, the building is at least twelve stories high, a sort of luxurious fortress.
How they got there I do not know, but two Mallard appeared in the pond of a Spring morning and went through the rituals of courtship. I have heard that female Mallard are serially raped each season but that once a choice has been made, the final couple, if I can call them that, remain steadfast. I have heard it said that this is so among many waterfowl and other animals.
Be that as it may, Mr & Mrs Mallard of Dolphin Square hung around for a few weeks surviving on grubs in the water and the odd crumb thrown into their pond by sentimental, passing residents. The time came for her to lay – but where? The pond was too small and there was not enough privacy for nesting so they had to head out and this is where we all wondered what would happen. How would they become VTOL certified?
Mr Mallard went on an exploration round the courtyard and finally encouraged Mrs M to follow him; with breath-taking aeronautical skill their formation of two-in-line circled the courtyard, gaining height. Round and round they went, higher and higher they climbed until they finally, after five minutes, cleared the roof of Dolphin Square to disappear into the blue, across the Embankment and onto the Thames.
Several weeks later they re-appeared and stayed for the rest of the summer very happily in the pond disappearing one day in the Autumn, we thought never to be seen again – like the Snow Goose.
But they reappeared the following year; at least I assume they were the same pair; I like to think so at any rate, and the whole cycle was repeated.
Our own nesting Blackbirds here in Mistley two seasons ago reminded me of Mr & Mrs Mallard of Dolphin Square SW1 : they had three chicks and infinite difficulty encouraging their babies firstly to get out of the nest, secondly flap bravely about on the ground while being exhorted to use they flying gear and learn to fly and thirdly, get enough lift to clear the Wisteria and back gate to the big, new world awaiting them. In the end I had to open the gate as the poor little mites didn’t have the featherage to cope. I think the parents were grateful and I remember thinking of my Mallard in Dolphin Square who had to teach their young to swim and fly.
It is a miraculous time of year and nature is in full swing as we have seen on our many walks.
I’ve tried to keep a mini diary and if I don’t write for about 4 days I have no idea what I did. It’s quite scary how there are so few memories and nothing to trigger the few that I have. When will this all be over…….?
So writes one of you, Friends; in fact we seem to be sharing similar experiences.
The past year has been a time for much navel-gazing, I guess. Not a bad thing I suppose, a bit of contemplation might be a good idea though often it can lead to bleaker, darker thoughts. There are certainly longer silences in the company we keep and its been generally agreed that because of the lockdown and the complete domination of Covid, there really is little to talk about beyond pleasantries. There is no news where once no news was considered good news! Now it make one wonder whether we are losing our sociability, forgetting how to engage, getting out of practice with our talents to amuse! The road map is blurring and disappearing.
No amount of zooming and streaming and webinars and binge-watching can make up for actual rather than virtual contact though I find that my anxiety levels go up when I move out of my pandemic-routine comfort zone!
The May Bank Holiday weekend has come and gone; our duo-bubble duly vaxed to the nines, went up to Stonely-Kimbolton to see the grandchildren also max-vaxed, care-managers and all. Our bubble floated across the fields of Cambridgeshire in on/off weather, racking up the footsteps on our androids and freezing outdoors in local pubs. The Costa-del-Sol it is not! But how lovely to see family again and they were all there to celebrate son Zac’s 49thBirthday. Astonishing that Tony has a son who’s now in his fiftieth year. I just cannot get my head around this! Where has it all gone?
The weather? Well, April has been odd. Here on The Green its been a sunny month largely but a cold one. Any thoughts of martini’s and fizzy outside on the lawn in glorious sunshine are discouraged by the pneumonia-inducing northerly breezes off the North Sea and from Siberia!
To London then on Bank Holiday Monday for Medical Maintenance – dentists, audiologists, bloods; pinched nerves, scans and tests; teas, lunches and dinners in back gardens and on freezing patios in West London with some of you, Friends. How lovely it all is despite the situation, to see familiar faces once again not through the zoom-glass darkly. Roll on June for full life support and the actual, physical touch.
This afternoon we will be told which countries are to be given green-light status in the Covid Roadmap to travel-bliss; which orange, which red. Its so exciting as the digital eVouchers clunk into the electronic travel folders as any plans bite the dust. It turns out not many are green lighted and there is this anomaly – visit New Zealand for instance as that has a green light, and family & friends, but you’d still have to stopover for two weeks in a government sponsored isolation hotel at vast expense, for two weeks. Who wants that? Staycationing and what the Germans call “Balcony Holidays” are IT!
Cwytching is a new word I learned, a Welsh word, in Wales it means “an affectionate hug”. They are doing it there already; we will have to wait until June to clutch to our hearts content.
And of course the elections yesterday. What to say? Bojo and his Shudder of Clowns have been buoyed up by substantial gains in England while the Nations indicate their distrust and loathing of his mad rule. Will there be a United Kingdom and longer? Will we have a little, mini war with France over Fishing Rights? I shall have to ask Friend Roger who lives on Guernsey, what his views are and whether he is suffering power cuts!
I haven’t the faintest idea, Friends! Onward to the sunny uplands of Summer and a season in the sun.
Bon Chance, Non Voyage!