The comfort of hawthorn and song thrush

It is mid May, and the late evening sun sets below Hebridean island silhouettes and ocean waters, leaving a residue of light and brightness.


Late evening on a calm May day, rare this year, painted in turquoise, amber, gold and rose

Nights are thin and watery now. Winter deeps and darks and diamond encrusted, frosty midnights are banished. As we head towards June and the summer solstice the sun merely glides away, slowly and gently. Evening light is long, shimmering with glimmerings and lingerings; end of day airs are white and turquoise, amber and rose, bird-filled and insect-humming, when winds are slight.

Dawn and dusk are filled with singing: from hedges, fields, seashore and hill. The heady fullness of choral song is joyous but gradually even this colourful, aural tonic subsides as light fails. But wait, there, now, one voice remains. The songster perches high, proud, erect, his music full throated. He, and I presume this he is a he, is the soloist to the dimming chorus; his song is a bright, gilded, brim-full manuscript of meaning. No repetition here of simple ditty or sea shanty, this is a Mozart sonata, or song cycle of Wagnerian complexity!

On he sings to his much hoped-for-wife! Is he master story teller to us all, bird and beast, man and woman, as we settle down to sleep and dream delve? Or perhaps he heralds the oncoming antlered night walkers, webbed flyers and other whisperers of the night?

My open bedroom window allows this glorious melody in. Outside, atop a lonely hawthorn tree growing taller than the hedges of pine, broom, clematis and honeysuckle, master song thrush finds his voice. He sings to me then, I think, of life and growing things, of earth and sky, of light and warmth, and joy. I am cocooned in comfort and peace and slip into sleep to dream of music and colour.

Standing taller than the surrounding hedges, this lonely hawthorn is late to bloom

Standing taller than the surrounding hedges, this lonely hawthorn is yet to bloom

Each dawn, before the bursting hustle-bustle choruses of blackbird, robin, chaffinch and skylark there is his song again. Unaccompanied, loud, intense, exultant, euphoric. Early, early, he rises. Is it the night herself my song thrush is enchanted with, or is he master of enchantment, driving the darkness away? There is, perhaps, some deeper instinct at work here which heralds the awakenings of others. I have not known this before, this pre-dawn, pre-dawn-chorus rousing! A melodious stirring of tiny avian hearts and blood vessels by one feathered conjuror whose magic is unknowable.

The hawthorn blossom is late here this year. May has been cold and of all the trees and shrubs, the hawthorn seems to have been the most hard-pressed. Green leaves and tiny flower buds are emerging, and, while in the far south white and pink blossoms are fading, I am waiting for their heady scent with impatience.

Bright green leaves and tiny white buds of the hawthorn hint of warmer, late May days

Bright green leaves and tiny white buds of the hawthorn hint of warmer, late May days

There are not many hedges here but I am compensated by the vibrant aromas and colours of bog plants and expanses of wilderness, of sea and mountain vistas. So the hawthorn tree is precious; for me and the song thrush; and the landscape is all the richer for the blossoms and singing.

About Annie O'G Worsley

I'm a mum of four, gran, writer, crofter & Professor of 'Environmental Change'. I now live on a small farm (known as a croft) by the sea in a place surrounded by the ‘Great Wilderness’ mountains of the Scottish NW Highlands. I was a full-time academic, a geographer, but I decided to go feral and follow my dream of living a smaller, simpler, wilder life. I have always loved wild places. As a child I was inspired by tales of Trader Horn (my great-great-great uncle Alfred Aloysius Smith) told to me by my mother. Trader Horn spent his life wandering, mostly in Africa. I too, love stravaiging (Gaelic for wandering) and spent time in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea as a young researcher, living with tribes there. Although I spent years researching and teaching university students about environments, processes and habitats, I am discovering much, much more exploring the wilds around me. In moving away from scientific writing, I have rediscovered my wilder self and have a much deeper, truer understanding of nature than I ever had before. My work is published by Elliott & Thompson in a series of anthologies called 'Seasons' and I am currently writing a book about this extraordinary place. I continue to write academic papers with my research colleagues but I am developing new skills including landscape photography and painting. And of course, I still love to wander.
This entry was posted in environment, nature, wildlife and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The comfort of hawthorn and song thrush

  1. beatingthebounds says:

    The hawthorn blossom has been really late here this year. We’re still waiting for some balmy nights like the ones you describe!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s