The journey from winter into spring is often messy and ill-defined. Sometimes it feels as if we are making progress and at others the cold and damp of winter days returns. As we are also contemplating moving from lockdown it is not surprising that we can feel a bit of kilter. Reflecting on an encounter in WH Hudson’s book A Shepherd’s Life, there are times when we feel like a small boy lost among the ocean waves of the South Downs and at others the man on the bicycle.
“18th March, Thursday.
Today has been filled with the kind of skies in which rooks exalt. Throwing ragged silhouettes upon the beating wind. Ecstatic heraldry.
Breathe deep, if you can.
Things are not right
Nor will they ever be.
But there are signals of joy,
Like a bush burning in the wilderness.”
In this episode I read Wendell Berry’s poem ‘Another Descent’ from his collection (2018) The Peace of Wild Things published by Penguin Books.
The encounter between the cyclist and the bird-scarer comes from WH Hudson’s (1910) A Shepherd’s Life: Impressions of the South Wiltshire Downs. You can read a digitised copy of this book, as part of the Project Guttenberg site, here: A Shepherd’s Life.
I also refer to Lisa Schneidau’s (2018) Botanical Folktales of Britain and Ireland published by The History Press.
If you are interested in Patricia Carswell’s Girl on the River podcast, you can listen to it here.
In the intro and the outro, Saint-Saen's The Swan is performed by Karr and Bernstein (1961) and available on CC at archive.org.
Two-stroke narrowboat engine recorded by 'James2nd' on the River weaver, Cheshire. Uploaded to Freesound.org on 23rd June 2018. Creative Commons Licence.
Piano interludes composed and performed by Helen Ingram.
All other audio recorded on site.
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