Welsh Harp


Carefully, quietly, we enter this hallowed space.
And gradually the comforting darkness clears, as you open the long wooden window slats,
and daylight pours in; my eyes adjust.

And here it is, suddenly, the magic scene;
this broad, shining stretch of water, the tangled and burnished woods
at the lake’s edge, sedge banks and autumnal, seeding grasses.
A rolling sky.
Further away some tiny shapes emerge; form into striking blue and white yahts, just setting off.
More eddying movement; spots of bright colour, people manoeuvring orange canoes into place.

In the far distance we’re reminded that the city encircles us,
the great modern arena spanned by an arching curve;
reduced to a small glimmering.
The day is becalmed.

But within this stillness our attention is now caught by what we came here to see,
these little, scurrying movements.  Our eyes gradually differentiate
between small, brown, black or startling white forms,
mottled patterns of plump feathery bodies.

This is a particular magic, as the birds go about their business,
absorbed in their small, precious lives and wonderfully oblivious of us.

We pick out gulls, cormorants, swans, grebes, each distinctively shaped,
each engaged in foraging, dipping, diving or swooping for food.

Or simply absorbing the morning’s stillness, or vigorously preening and oiling their feathers.

You have set the equipment up; encourage me to focus;
and suddenly a small scene moves into detail, I can see a modest, brown little bird,
with a long sharp beak plunging into shallow, mud water.

I have been admitted to this serene world,
world within worlds.
And we are secreted in the dark shed, with it’s posters of butterflies, dragonflies, birds,
natural history books.
And on one shelf you show me, thickened with dust, diaries going back twenty years.

One of them is open, we see, upon today,
a retired gentleman arrived 6.30am.
And has listed in an unformed poem, simply what he observed.

Visiting 6.30 – 9.15am WNW
Woodpigeon 1,385
Stock Dove 10
Starling 84
Pied Wagtail 3
Grey Wagtail 3
Songthrush 1
Blackbird 2
Mistlethrush 2
Redwing 83
Fieldfare 6
Meadowpipit 1
Greenfinch 6
Goldfinch 12
Linnet 3
Chaffinch 23
Lesser Redpole 2
Yellowhammer 1
(17 species)

This is an act of love.
Our being here today, just watching carefully, breathing in the world’s beauty ,
these birds going about their own small lives; is also.

When we leave and after you pull the shutters down,
Return the room to it’s protected, sublime darkness,
and lock the door,
I see the tarnished, bronze plaque on the outside wall,
‘Opened by Bill Oddie 1990’

May he be forever blessed by goddesses of earth and air.

© IDF Andrew November 2014

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