Caught by the River

Jeb's Jukebox

Jeb Loy Nichols | 12th May 2013

17. Sailing ships

Sailing Ships
Julian Moore

Leggy Foal Records

I was told, years ago, by my neighbour, that if you have money in your pocket when you hear the first cuckoo of the spring, you’ll have a prosperous year. Since then, come May, I’ve maintained pockets full of change so as not be caught out. You can hear me coming, rattling and jangling up the road.

It has, this labouring through May with stuffed pockets, done me no good. One unprosperous year follows the next. This year I’ve decided to let the cuckoo be a bird and not a harbinger of wealth. I will trust to time and tide and fortune.

There is, around these parts, a great lessening and depletion of field birds. A sixty per cent drop over the past ten years.
Wave bye-bye to the Red Legged Partridge.
Also the Curlew.
Also the Meadow Pipit.
Also the Green Plover. (Called a Lapwing or Peewit by my neighbours.)
Also the Hedge Sparrow.
There is also, around these parts, an ever decreasing human population. Human presence, however, has never been more evident.
The usual culprits: domesticated farm animals, pesticides, the introduction of non-native trees and plants, the draining of marsh lands, intensive farming, the destruction of natural habitats, the prettifying of open spaces.
Ground dwelling field birds are being driven to extinction.
If you’ve never heard the song of the Linnet, chances are you never will.

So much is leaving. Never to be seen again. A migration to nonbeing. All the things that have always been but will never again be.

This is good Julian Moore weather. I put on his record in the morning and drink my tea. It’s good to be reminded that life is to admired not for it’s strength and power but for it’s vulnerability. This is the stuff that needs to be written about.

How beautiful, how delicate, how open is this record?

“We try and try to find a place,
But nothing seems to please,
The water’s running into
A sailing ship.”

And so I sit with empty pockets, waiting for the first cuckoo of the year.

Jeb Loy Nichols.