In yoof-speak it was sooooo not a beautiful morning.
Not raining, but cool and decidedly overcast. Was I 'bovvered'? Yes, I think perhaps I was. I'm finding this spring, which shows no signs of being truly springlike, hard going. It's been a long haul since October and there's a way to go yet. There have been milestones; the snowdrops were welcome and the daffodils and primroses more welcome still. I've greeted each burgeoning green bud with enthusiasm - but the land is still so cold and wet. My boots bring in clods of sticky clay......
Sorry, I digress. Now where was I?
Ah yes, early one morning, under a cloudy sky, clad in boots and jacket trudging up the field to let the hens out. I've a feed bucket in one hand and an eye open for Chester - The Dog Who Cannot Be Trusted as he follows fresh morning scents in the dingle.
A sound stops me in my tracks - unmistakable and plaintive - a sound that is the very essence of spring, a sound so magical and musical and a sound so loud it might be coming from only a few paces away. I do not need to strain to listen - it fills the air, surrounds me - coming at once from here and then seemingly from over there. Loud liquid notes rise and warble - and there is a response too but it's not an echo from the wall of trees on the hill. There are a pair of birds.
How do I describe in words the cry of the curlew - a clear watery trill that fills the air? A burbling, bubbling glissando of notes? What an inadequte description that seems to be.
I cannot see them although I know they must be close, perhaps they are on the wing. Indeed they are - I now see them silhouetted against the sky, wheeling and spinning over the conifers of Badnage Wood. Spinning and swooping, unmistakably curlews singing love songs in the bright morning air.