Who Killed Cock Robin?

Not I, said the fly

There is something in the air on this final February Saturday.  The light is bright; the sky is clear.  There’s a strength to the sun that belies this shortest of months.  There is birdsong on the wing and between the leafless branches.  Into the blue falls the sharp mewl of buzzards, too high to be easily spotted but proclaiming their presence with haunting calls which shred the air like darts and remind me of my small place against this wide empty sky.

Kaleidoscopes of minute insects with fathomless motives swarm restlessly against the dark of the conifer.  The myriad lambs-tail catkins seem particularly fluffy, full with yellow pollen, eager and twitching to be off into the skies: a meandering stream of golden pennants dressing the trees where for so long branches have been drab and eerie in their grey-green lichen garb.

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We have been checking bird boxes and siting new ones.  I have recklessly contemplated sowing some seeds outdoors.  Just in the most sheltered tubs, I tell myself, close to the house.  An over-wintered sweet pea is sprouting strongly and the roses have clusters of tiny bright green leaves opening to the sun.  A clump of purple crocuses has opened wider than I thought possible: golden stamens stretching skyward. I am forgetting how close we remain to winter.

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Amidst the countless thrusting green spears a solitary bluebell is already in bloom.  A February bluebell…  glowing alongside the stalwart snowdrops which are weary now and tatty, but still hold aloft their once gleaming heads.  Surely spring has sprung?

 

 

 

With a start, my eye is caught by a slash of scarlet where scarlet should not be.  Upturned on the lawn amid jewel-speckled unkempt blades that missed the final cut of autumn, a bedraggled cock robin, life extinguished, bleeds.  Head flung back, unseeing eye, feathers awry, this small creature whose companions still flood the air with rivulets of joy will play no further part in the avian cycle of life.

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Photo by Kym Welsh on Unsplash

Much as I exalt in the sensory whisperings which grow more insistent with every sunbeam, I mourn too this single robin whose passing is a foil to the promises of new life.

Who killed Cock Robin?

Not I, said the fly, and not the North Wind, for this year it doth not blow. This time last year we trembled in the shadow of the Beast from the East – and bitter winds may well have been his executioner then.  But for this robin, this winter, this mild, dry winter, was still a season too far.  Such a fragile hold on life for so many of our small creatures.

The next morning it is gone – nothing remains, not a single vermillion quill stands testament to the robin’s existence.  Nature is transient – and nature does not waste.  The robin’s death will have been put to use by some other creature eking out a life on the fringes of spring.  I try to remember: it may yet be February; winter may still strike.  But it is hard to believe on this weekend of sunlit promises.

I stand where yesterday the robin had lain.  And everywhere in the garden daffodils cluster to proclaim long, loud and joyfully with their bright yellow trumpets: there is something in the air…

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Inspired by Margaret’s prompt for Ragtag Saturday : air

 

35 thoughts on “Who Killed Cock Robin?”

    1. Yes, you could well be right Katrina; they are so territorial of course. I wonder too, who took the remains. A larger bird I’m sure, as there was nothing left at all.

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    1. Like you, I think, Uma, nature walks hand-in-hand with humility for me. I cannot breathe in the grandeur without a crystal-sharp awareness of our small place within it. It is always a worthwhile reminder.

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  1. Beautiful Sandra. And a reminder that we all tremble on the cusp of promise and threat. May your spring rise gently this year. Here, despite the heat, there is definitely something autumnal in the air …

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  2. What a lovely look around your part of the world, even poor Cock Robin has his part to play. I was only wondering the other day what a bluebell looked like and now I know. Autumn is on the way here in Melbourne with intensely hot but shortening days.

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    1. Bluebells are generally seen en masse, Rose. Swathes of lilac-blue sweeping like rivers across woodlands. Always delight me. As with naturebackin who commented above and hails from S Africa, it’s hard to place myself in those early days of autumn that you have now. But that is, without doubt, my favourite time of year. We have a few months of spring and summer to enjoy first though!

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    1. It’s nice to be back, FF, hopefully for a longer stint this time 🙂 It was cold here this morning too. But we’re warming up – we’ll be even warmer today than yesterday apparently. Hope a few rays of sunshine reach you too!

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  3. A beautiful piece about life, and about its fragility. We live out in the country and see many examples of how quickly life can end . . . it always leaves me sad. But your photos of and words about the coming of spring lift me up!

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    1. I think today will be our last day of sunshine, Kerry, before we return to rainclouds. But it’s been a lovely interlude. True spring is not far away!

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  4. A beautifully expressive essay. On the too rare sunny days of our grey winter I can find the promises of springtime. Wild daffodils are in bloom along the verges of the winding country roads and sunlight falls in new places. Skunks are out and about–courting–a reckless nocturnal activity that often results in their demise, struck by passing cars.

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    1. Thank you 🙂 Your own description brings a vivid new picture: I’ve never associated daffodils and skunks! Poor creatures; their precarious activities put me in mind of hedgehogs here which are all too frequently the victims of cars.

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  5. How your words resonate with me Sandra. I love the fleeting, ephemeral nature of February, when Spring dips in and out and teases us with tiny pleasures and treasures. I’m a March girl myself, but feel stirred into life around now, ready to begin anew.
    I found a wonderful new word this week- petrichor- the rich smell of green, which follows rain. Today, in my garden ,as the grass reaches for the precious moisture after the week long sunshine, it’s strong, and I know that the earth is awake after the winter.

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    1. Beautiful words as ever, Pat. (I do wish you would start a blog!) I’m not usually a fan of February, but the last couple have been exceptions albeit for different reasons. Petrichor… wonderful! (There are so many delightful new-to-me words in MH – possibly petrichor hails from your reading of her?) Sunshine here today – bright again after a day of hard rain. March arrives today like a lamb but possibly not for long 🙂

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    1. Yes, it’s always hard when creatures suffer. I know it’s an essential part of nature’s cycle but I still mourn for its passing. As I sit here there is a robin singing outside; it’s such a fine day that I have the door open and it’s song is drifting in. It’s beautiful. The song of a winter survivor 🙂

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      1. Yes, both comments came through, Deb. Hope all is well. I found a shiny 20p piece in the ground the other day and immediately thought of you! We’ll catch up soon 🙂

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