There is a moment in the year (and it’s usually in April nowadays) when the beech leaves are on the point of opening, and they seem to float in the air. For those of us who live in the Chilterns, it’s a special moment.
‘And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk …’
wrote Thomas Hardy in Afterwards.
George Orwell, who grew up in Oxfordshire, wrote in 1984: ‘Winston picked his way up the lane through dappled light and shade, stepping out into pools of gold wherever the boughs parted. Under the trees to the left of him the ground was misty with bluebells. The air seemed to kiss one’s skin. It was the second of May’ (my emphasis).
That’s how it was on my run this morning, up the hill and through the woods. Here the bluebells are not yet open, but some times the two events coincide, and there is already a faint blue tinge to the undergrowth.
On my way through the woods, I check the kites’ tree to see if there’s a bird on the nest; it’s not always possible to tell as she hunkers right down.
And then it’s on to the jackdaws’ tree. Long before I get there they’ve heard me and are piling out of it, and with comfortable chunterings they fly up into the nearby beech trees. Their nesting tree is so full of holes it’s like lace; each year I fear they’ll abandon it, but they never do.
Nearby a blackcap is singing in a holly bush. I want this time of year to last for ever, but it’s always up and away in no time.