Sunday, 13 May 2012

The sound of spring

A second spring has tiptoed into my Surrey garden, much more tentatively than the first. March swaggered in, brazen, searing moisture from the ground with its day-after-day sun and warmth. In May, after weeks of torrential rain and wind, the clouds part more hesitantly. Birds, bugs and flowers seem a little less trusting...

I lie on my back, drinking in the sounds of the garden: fluty whistles and warbles from blackbirds high in the trees, a song thrush repeating increasingly ambitious phrases, bumblebees humming among the tiny bell-like flowers of blueberry plants behind me. A stream of clicks, like a dolphin under water, spews from the giant fir tree. A bird?

A chill northerly wind rakes its fingers through the silver birch's maiden tresses and in a neighbouring garden a child screams for his dad. From time to time the human world blots out nature: the sound of a drill on masonry, passenger jets overhead, the distant whine of a chainsaw, a murmuration of mowers…

Lying on the grass, with my eyes closed, my mind fills with the sounds of spring. It’s surprising how much detail you hear when your vision, that domineering human sense, is switched off. The soundscape is rich, and reaches you from so many directions at once, unlike the light signals from our forward-facing eyes.

For a moment I muse about which sounds I love most. I decide that if I were ever locked in a cell and allowed just one soundtrack, (an unlikely scenario), it would have to be blackbird song – beautiful, haunting, ever-changing, and, for me, the sound of spring in a Surrey garden.

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