Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Birdsong and bark

My mother loved birds. One day many years ago when I was still a schoolgirl, she saw a hoopoe in our garden. So excited was she by the sight of it – for a hoopoe is a very distinctive bird and a rare visitor in this country – that she immediately telephoned Mr Griffiths, the Chemistry teacher over at school who was renowned as a bird-watcher. Evidently, upon receiving her telephone call, Griff Chem as he was generally known rushed across to our house at once and together he and my mother admired the hoopoe through our kitchen window.

As for me, I know shamefully little about birds in general. But I can say that, for quite a few days now, I’ve been enraptured by the song of the blackbird who has taken up residence somewhere in the gardens at the back of our house. What gorgeous sounds he makes and how long the song continues! Each time I hear it I know that the world of nature is full of wonders and that this blackbird’s song is surely one of them. Maybe it’s a common-or-garden bird (for indeed it’s just out there in the garden). But its song feels like just as much of a blessing as that of the nightingale that Paul and I used regularly to hear from our bedroom during a holiday we once had on the isle of Iona.

Perhaps it’s that nearness of nature to us that we all need to know and accept so we can learn to notice it, treasure it and safeguard it. Currently I’m struck, for instance, by how many daffodils I see around me in London. OK, I know that, being Welsh, I’m particularly prone to notice daffodils. (In Wales, of course, they’re regarded as a national flower.) But there really are lots of them in London and it’s nice to think that, initially, lots of someones must have planted them, pushing the bulbs down into receptive earth.  By now, obviously, they’ve spread and spread. But thank goodness for the initial plantings.

What with birdsong and daffodils, it has  really begun to feel this week as if Spring is on the point of springing into its full fullness of life. Indeed, tomorrow is the Spring Equinox.  OK, Lockdown continues and there’s still a nip in the air but the sun has been shining its heart out. On one of the lovely days this week, much inspired by the shining sun, Paul and I went for a good walk across Clapham Common where, as my photo reveals, I decided to try out what it feels like to hug a tree. This is not something I’ve purposefully done before. But now I can recommend it for two reasons. One is the feeling of warmth you get from the trunk of the tree. The other is that when you’re that close, you can really appreciate the texture of the bark.

Birdsong, daffodils, trees: as the old song says, it’s a wonderful world. That said, however, the world certainly has its horrors as well as its beauties. One of the most noticeable things to anyone who currently goes near the bandstand on Clapham Common as Paul and I did on our walk yesterday is all the bunches of flowers, huge numbers of bunches of them, at and around the bandstand and also tied onto all the fences nearby. Of course, they’re there in memory of the young woman, Sarah Everard, who lived not far away until she was murdered the other day. Yesterday, they were a poignant reminder of the evils in the world as well as the beauties.

PS:  Well yes, I was aware that Paul was getting out his camera as I was extending my arms around the tree in my photo. But since it’s not something that happens every day, I didn’t tell him to stop. As for the hoopoe, I’ve never seen one. The picture is from the RSPB.

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One Response to “Storytelling Starters ~ Birdsong and bark”

  1. Pam Says:

    Hi Mary, so glad you have hugged your first tree! I hope it becomes a habit.
    As for hoopoes, these delightful birds were frequent visitors to our garden in northern Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) in South Africa in the 1970s.
    Happy Spring Equinox, Autumn for us in Australia,

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