Although it has been snowing here this week there are small green buds everywhere I look and it is April at last. For the beginning of April I pick up my seasonal reading again and head off to Somerset with Stephen Moss in his book Wild Hares and Hummingbirds*. In Moss’ home parish of Mark, spring is in full swing. He writes of great tits, chiffchaffs, rabbits, wood pigeons, field voles, kestrels, blackbirds, robins, blue tits, whimbrels, wood sandpipers, comma and orange-tip butterflies. The world is alive and racing to reproduce.
Moss is pleased to report his first sighting of a swallow only to find that someone else in the village has beaten him to it. He marvels at the way swallows not only travel to Africa and back but manage “to navigate to the very place where they were born.” Did you know that no one knows where house martins go when they migrate away from our shores? Moss says, “…upwards of 100 million birds in all – more or less disappear, with only small numbers being seen at scattered locations around the continent…how can a bird so familiar that we name it after our homes…vanish so effectively for half its lifespan?” Part of me is delighted that in spite of all our science and technology nature can still stump us with such simple mysteries.
From my other seasonal companion, Steve Roud (The English Year) I learnt that 6th April is traditionally known as Flitting Day. Farm and domestic workers were often employed by the year and that year either began and ended with Michaelmas (29th September) or Lady Day (25th March). If it was Lady Day, 6th April was the date for moving out of your tied accommodation and hence was called Flitting Day. I suddenly feel all in tune with the seasons (which was the aim!), not only will we be returning to the place I grew up this month (just like the swallows) but we’re also moving on Flitting Day!
Here’s a brainy pattern I’ve been working on for a commission.
*In case you’re new here and wondering what I’m talking about I’m reading these two books in the corresponding month the authors write about, to get back a bit of seasonality in my life.