Tuesday, 31 March 2015

As some of you already know I don't go out very often now, so my mind often turns to memories and remembrances.

 When my eldest daughter was small we lived in Scotland in a huge white painted farmhouse called Yonderton at the top of a long tree-lined lane.  To the left of the house stood a byre where the farmer who rented Yonderton to us kept a special cow or two.  They looked like Jersey cows to me, because their faces were soft and expressive and their hide was that wonderful honey brown shade, but being a city-bred person I probably guessed incorrectly, maybe they were just being fattened for market, a horrid thought.   'S' and I visited them often because they didn't seem to be put out into the fields, spending long days in the cowshed with only the light from the wedged open doorway and the tall sash window which was permenantly dropped open, the top over the bottom leaving a big opening to capture the sweet Scottish airs.  One morning we made our usual visit and my attention was quickly caught by a small blue fluttering bird trapped in the crevice between the two window panes.  It was too high to reach from the inside of the shed so we made our way around the front to see if I could reach it from there.  I didn't have a ladder and I'm not sure what I must have used to stand on after all the years spanning between then and now, but somehow I managed to climb up precariously, and reach down between the two panes to rescue what I now realised was a baby swallow.  This tiny blue-blue beating heart settled for a few seconds upon my outstretched palm before suddenly taking flight up up and away.  This then became my regular rescue-mission throughout the summer, as the swallow babies learnt to navigate through the opening without first having to stop on that dangerous perch atop the two sashes.  I remember I felt so privileged to be able to hold those feathers of midnight-blue lightening for a second or two, before they took off to practise more aerial gymnastics throughout those days of summer skies long gone.                                          

Swallows.  by Leonora Speyrt,  from:- 'A Canopic Jar'         Illustration: Hector Giacomelli,'With the Birds' via: archive.org

They dip their wings in the sunset,
They dash against the air 
As if to break themselves upon its stillness:
In every movement, too swift to count,
Is a revelry of indecision, 
A furtive delight in trees they do not desire
And in grasses that shall not know their weight.

They hover and lean toward the meadow
With little edged cries;
And then,
As if frightened at the earth's nearness,
They seek the high austerity of evening sky
And swirl into its depth.


Susan McShannon-Monteith said...

Such beautiful words Jane.
We both patiently await the arrival of Spring which seems to be vey elusive here.
I do hope you didn't suffer damage from the gale force winds and were safe within the lovely place you call home...
Susan x

helen tilston said...

Your childhood in Scotland sounds idyllic. I loved reading about your rescuing the swallows. It sounds like sheet determination allowed you to climb, without a ladder, to the window.

i loved your visit to my blog today, thank you kindly.

Wishing you a very Happy Easter.

Helen xxx

Lynn said...

Loveliness. xoxo

Debra said...

Jane, I enjoy your memories, the way you capture beauty with your words and images. And the bird rescue mission summer is no exception.

How have you been, tender heart?

L.P. said...

What a lovely story!

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Jane,

You have captured here most delightfully a glimpse of your childhood days in Scotland. Perhaps this is something we can all identify with......the innocence of childhood and the wish to save all creatures great and small.

Your recollections made our minds turn to our days in Herefordshire where Swallows would make their annual visit, lining up like notes on a musical score on the telegraph pole wires. Fledglings would run a gauntlet of life and death in games played with our cats. Our job was to keep a careful watch over those first hesitant flights in order that a swipe of a cat paw was not the final encounter for these brave birds.

Spring is just around the corner now. Hope and joy are the real gifts of Easter we think and we wish you these this Eastertide.

WOL said...

But of course you watched for the baby swallows and helped them. You're a mother. That's what mothers do.

The two up/two down apartment building where I live has doors that face each other in a kind of well stairwell, with large openings above and below that face out onto the parking lot on one side and the inner courtyard on the other. When I moved in, there was a family of cliff swallows with a nest just inside the inner opening. These kinds of swallows typically build nests underneath bridges overpasses (flyovers) and they are very "chirpy" -- I could hear them through the "chimney" of the exhaust fan over my cooktop. I wonder if we will have any nesting there this year?

You may be familiar with this Mary Oliver poem . .

June said...

I love that you were a rescuer of the swallow babies dear Jane. And I love to hear about your life in Scotland with your young family. You probably taught your dear daughter so much by your kind acts. It seems that I am always rescuing the baby robins from my cats in the summer and wish I could do more to keep them safe without having to put a bell on the cats as I love them to keep the mouse population down here in the garden.

I think of you so often my dear and hope that you are finding joy in everyday.
My daughter is coming to your beautiful county this next week for 10 wonderful days. She invited me to go with her, but since I have my sweet boy to care for and get terrible air-sick, I had to say no. So now she is taking one of her friends and I know they will have a wonderful time.
sending love to you...