Saturday, 20 March 2021

SWITHERING

A pale pink and apricot colouring to the clouds.  Last night's sunset due west, between Garn Fadryn and Garn Boduan, aligned with the lane, which is on an east-west axis.  The eve of the vernal equinox in the Northern hemisphere when the earth's poles are perpendicular to the sun's rays.  The astronomical beginning of spring.

But this morning swithers between two seasons.  A pale lemon hint of sunrise in the east, light cloud and haze.  The cloud becomes heavier and the mist thicker.  I walk to the top of a hill behind Mynytho, variously known as Foel Felyn Wynt (windmill hill - National Trust), Foel Fawr (big hill - OS map) or the Jam-Pot (locals).   

The summit windmill was never very successful - the  proximity of other hills makes the  swirling winds unpredictable.  But the hill's jam-pot outline makes it an easily identifiable landmark from a distance.   The derelict tower topped with its circle of sky is popular with children who run in through the doorway and climb out through the window.  In bad weather the tower is a shelter, a place to eat sandwiches out of the rain and wind.  It's a popular place in the summer, a short family-sized climb with a good view and something interesting at the top.

Today the weather continues swithering.  The mist distorts proportions - the nearby hills of Mynytho and Carneddol loom large.  The St Tudwal's islands are just visible and look far away.   All the time I am out walking I only see one other person - a man driving a muddy tractor.   There are lambs in the fields and cheerful splashes of daffodils.  Some of the gorse along the banks is flowering profusely, some of it looks tired and wintry.  Celandines have already decided to pack up for the day - they  huddle together with their yellow stars tightly folded and only tiny streaks of colour showing in the green.  A flock of starlings flies over - migrating birds on their way to spring breeding grounds.  I look up at hearing the cries of herring gulls - the hazy outlines of a few birds circling indecisively in the low cloud.  

When I get to my front gate a blackbird is singing loudly on top of a telephone pole and more faintly I hear answering notes from the far side of the garden.  No swithering for him - he ignores me and continues with his spring song.  

I thought of the blackbird in Irish poetry, first recorded in a 9th century Irish Gaelic fragment of only eight lines:

The little bird
that whistled shrill
from the nib of
     its yellow bill.

Blackbird over
Lagan water
clumps of yellow
     whinburst.

[Translated - first verse by Ciaran Carson, second verse by Seamus Heaney]




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