Caught by the River


10th August 2013


A postcard from David Cain, Hatcheson Halt, Suffolk, 28 July, 2013

I sit at the side of our house on a late July morning and I watch the swifts. They are flying low today and if my reactions were faster I could reach up and touch one as it scythes by. The swifts so close I can hear the rat-a-tat rustle of their wings.

These are this year’s young. The swifts having made their home in our rafters. I watch the birds come and go. It is believed a young swift will not touch the ground for five years. That means they will go on like this until twenty-eighteen.

I look to our house and count the things that live with us. The sparrows who share rafter space with the swifts. The lone starling that has kept a vigil from the chimney pot all summer long, watching for the first murmur of its friends return.

Bees live here too. A hive of honey bees buzz to and fro from underneath the back roof. Above them, a colony of house leeks cling to the tiles. Joined in their land grab by a dark green moss that helps insulate the cottage in winter.

The smaller creatures live inside. The window spider lazing in the hazy sunshine. The harvest man racing across the arctic tundra of the ceiling. The moths who dance by night around the sun god of our lamps.

The heat also bears flies and maggots, who feed on food and become in turn food for the spiders. The dog tries to eat the flies too, though not the cat. What else I wonder lays unseen? Beetles, fleas, dust mites (of which twenty-thousand may live on one gram of dust) rats and mice.

It is only when you start to count in this way that you realise it is not our home but a home. At some point we believed that nature, the wilderness, was something separate from us. Yet here, in our happy Ark, we are all a part of nature.

Seen today : Rabbits, Rooks, Hares, Swifts, Swallows, House Martins, Sparrows, Spiders, Moths, Flies, Bees, Butterflies (Common Blues, Commas, Gatekeepers, Tortoiseshells, Meadow Browns, Large Whites, Small Skippers, Ringlets) Wood Pigeons, Sparrow Hawks, Pheasants, Goldfinches, Robins and a Lonely Starling.

David’s blog.