Tuesday, 14 January 2014

O may my heart’s truth/Still be sung…

I love frosty mornings (and snowy ones); and always have. Not for their slipperiness, of course – which can be ameliorated, a little, by the judicious use of my constant companion of a walking stick; or advanced driving (which can soon be demolished by a thoughtless tailgater…) – but for the extended ‘golden hour’ of photographer’s (de)light; and for the lethargy (or desperate hunger) of animals usually too wary to approach.

Today’s late, bright, crisp dawn heralded such an “hour” – although there wasn’t much joy in scrubbing and scraping the overnight frozen rain from opaque car windows (especially full of a stinking winter’s cold…!) – a ravenous squirrel rewarding my patience and determination, once in Stratford, by leaving its arboreal haven to munch and scavenge just a few feet from my muddy boots; and a huddled heron priesting the banks of the Avon, by Holy Trinity, in the winged willow above my head – almost a museum exhibit in its patient meditation (a wicked glint in its eye demonstrating its true purpose: angled, as it was, with that spear-like beak, towards the still fast-flowing river…).

As I wandered opposite, along the Rec, a while later, the sun now creeping over my shoulder, the grey heron was still there: quizzically gazing at a fellow busily chattering into his mobile phone – as if to ask why his presence wasn’t companionship enough… – the only birds caring to exercise in flight being swans, barking in time with their beating wings; and raucous gulls, fighting over the scraps of bread from rare pilgrims, like myself.

Poem in October [excerpt]
Dylan Thomas

      It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
  And the mussel pooled and the heron
  Priested shore
  The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall   
  Myself to set foot
  That second
  In the still sleeping town and set forth.

I could hear Thomas’s almost accentless Welsh-style lilt run, riverlike and warming, through my sunstruck mind, as I “walked abroad in a shower of all my days” – perfect music: especially for moving “Through the parables/Of sun light” on a morning I could never forget; his singing words so much more melodic than mine.

PS: I’ve always had a soft spot for badgers – and have been glad that they have played a small, but significant, part in defending our local heritage against development. However, I’d have invested in a few, if I’d known they were worth over £4,000 each…?! (Puttocks.)

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