12 November 2011
awakening of cheerful feelings
We've been watching the Simon Russell Beale's series of programmes on the symphony and I was very taken with the inspiration for the first movement Beethoven's Sixth, the Pastoral: the awakening of cheerful feelings on arrival in the country. Uplifting, perhaps would be a word I would choose. And it does not even have to be the deep countryside that does the trick- a walk in the park, a cycle along the canal, discovering a little corner, or like Knit Nurse, seeing the sunflowers you've guerilla planted.
As it happens, I felt very cheerful today. I'd had a brisk cycle along the canal to my pilates class, speeding past the Sunday fair-weather and hardy runners. Then, a trip to Elmley RSPB reserve for a walk over the marshes in the sunshine along by the sea wall, wind bristling through the reeds and grasses. You are encouraged to use your car as a hide so as not to scare the birds on the approach road, and there we watched a female kestrel hovering and diving in for a couple of kills, curlews, lapwings, marsh harriers, a sleepy heron, egrets, no end of waders and ducks and geese (I can never tell one from the other). Of course this is only a small sample of what's there because I am hopeless at remembering any of the birds and have to rely on more expert opinion.
We moved on to the raptor viewing point at Capel Fleet as the light started to fade and the mist was rising. The drive takes you across fields of sheep and low lying ground. There was a collection of serious monosyllabic bird watchers there with giant telescopes and tick-lists, accompanied by the chafing sound of their super waterproof clothing. A more friendly lady told us a couple of short eared owls were around and, on cue, they came up and swooped and circled low around the marshes in front of us. A wedge of swans flew by, making that wonderful whistling noise as they passed. "I love that sound" said the friendly lady. (I bet Ludwig would have added it in to the second movement if only he had heard it.)
And because we were on the Isle of Sheep, I couldn't come home without one quick snap of the burr-covered girls posing in the last of the light.
Lots of reasons to be cheerful, I reckon.