Is This the Song of Spring?

Is This the Song of Spring?

After a very cold night we wake to a crisp winter morning of frosted grass with the bright sun rising over the house tops. This is ‘day’s most sacred hour‘, full of the ‘innocence of a new born day‘.

The Song of Spring

He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed..

Isaiah 50:2

I rise to start the day as usual touching base with my Creator through a brief Bible reading, prayer and silent listening. But today he speaks in a surprising manner. Going outside I hear the unmistakable sound of a favourite songbird, longed for, yet so often disappointingly absent, but now singing not far away. It is music to my ears, as if hearing from a long lost friend who has been absent for far too long. As this thrush flings his soul upon the cold morning air, it comes as a glimmer of hope that these birds might return again to grace our gardens.

Song Thrush singing

I knew that Spring
Would come again,
I knew it had not come,
That it was lost too in those mountains chill.
What did the thrushes know?
Rain, snow, sleet, hail,
Had kept them quiet as the primroses.

From Edward Thomas’s poem ‘March’

The Song Thrush

Song Thrushes used to be regular visitors to our West Sussex garden, singing from our back garden tree tops, smashing snail shells on the path and serenading us in their evening anthems. But sadly, the last time we had one in the garden was 2020 and then only for a brief visit. In recent years the highlight of our holidays in a friend’s cottage in a New Forest wood has always been to hear the thrushes there. I have a treasured recording of one bird outside our cottage window at 4.30 am, singing in competition with a second thrush further away in the wood. What a delightful way to be woken in the morning!

Not far from here, on the re-wilded Knepp Estate song thrushes are thriving on the wild scrub and thick over-grown hedges there. But here in this village, apart from the occasional sound of one, they seem to have disappeared from our gardens, as have so many of our traditional birds. Now the song thrush is on the Amber list of endangered species.

Very early daffodils in January frost
Last week
Early December

Spring Dawn

The Rijnveld’s Early Sensation daffodils bow in the frost, but later in the day they will be standing proud. I never cease to wonder at this very early daffodil, always out in December whatever the weather.
It is soon Joined by Narcissus ‘Spring Dawn‘, aconites, snowdrops, the Christmas rose and winter flowering shrubs whose fragrance drifts powerfully through the cold frosty air giving hints of spring. But will it be a silent spring? I take that one lone voice of the song thrush as an answer, specially for me. A long-lost friend from a vanished past. One hint of promise for a silent world.

Frosty morning in garden

As if not to be outdone, the blackbird we have been feeding during the past few frosty weeks has just started to reward us with his first dawn song. A first dunnock and a group of goldfinches were also singing in our trees alongside the resident robin. I will be waiting and listening for more birdsong in the coming weeks, hoping this will not be a lone song thrush this season as in 2020. At least some thrushes are here! Is this the first song of spring?

Now I know that Spring will come again,
Perhaps to-morrow: however late I’ve patience

Edward Thomas
Indoor Daffodils in full flower in January

As we wait, these strongly scented indoor daffodils, Narcissus Soleil d’Or give us a taste of spring with their cheery ‘suns of gold’, safe from the frost outside.

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