An Acknowledgment Of Birds

A walk on the safer side, today: no ponies lurking amidst twilit bracken and bones. Over the arcs of cut-crop fields clouds tower. They have storm left in them. A storm shortage is unlikely.

Dog has a beauty day, first a whole body mud wrap then tea tree foam, cold rinse and an ear trim. A mild chill brews in my head and back indoors it is all about wrapping up. This jumper is bobbled from use: comfortable and flecked gold. Presents stack under the tinsel tree, labeled.

This time last year, we review: Mr Craig gave us the beautiful shock, the surprise wedding! We were thinking of our friend who was touch and go after a car crash. Ian Rice was poorly, we were used to it, it was just a fact. Little Godson on the phone, telling us about snow and a kestrel that hit a pigeon.
The pigeon survived.

Two magpies, I saw, out walking: one for sorrow, two for joy…

This year: Baby Girl joins her parents for anniversary celebrations, the young man who survived the crash smiles and waves when I drive past. I love the Christmas card I get from Little Godson and his Mum. There's a picture of his clownish Dad, the memorable Mr Rice, and several of the godson gooning in snow.

The custom is to greet a solo magpie, to deflect the sorrow it represents, something I have done out of polite habit, as though the bird would be offended otherwise. This year I have changed this: I say, I know, Magpie, there is always sorrow somewhere. No point pretending or hiding. A sigh is released. And when I see two magpies harbingering happiness: I know that too.

The kestrel, I said to Little Godson; they had called right after it happened: that was a surprise wasn't it?
The child responds in all innocent joy: 'I nearly shat my pants!'

I could hear his mother shriek in the background.


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