Sunday, 10 September 2017


Dear Reader,


Since I wrote this blog a month ago, very sadly my husband of thirty years has died. We had been out for a picnic lunch, had a short walk on this sunny August day, then I left him watching the cricket on the television in his favourite chair.  I found him passed away half an hour later. 

No one told me what grief was like - it comes in great waves overwhelming me, and I hope that time will make this less terrible, as people say it will.  I shall continue to write the blog as I know he would have wanted me to.

From John Clare's journal, 1824  (Northants) September 10th.

'The swallows are flocking together in the skies ready for departing and a crowd has dropt to rest on the walnut tree where they twitter as if they were telling their young stories of their long journey to cheer and check fears.'

Swallows must be amongst the most popular birds - their arrival each spring in the northern hemisphere indicates the onset of summer.  Swallows are easily recognised by their slender bodies, long pointed wings and forked tails; martins tend to have much less forked tails. All swallows are strongly migratory making many journeys of several thousand miles a year.  They migrate by stopping frequently en route, unlike other passerines.   Before crossing the Sahara Desert or the Mediterranean Sea they will fuel for several days to ensure they have enough fat for the crossing.  During migration, and in their winter quarters, birds will gather in large roosts, particularly in reedbeds and some types of crop for the night.



Rich in England's spring
cowparsely entrancing
in dog-rosed hedge,
the fecund earth lush green,
a baby swallow
hatches in a Suffolk barn,
to the cries of gulls
flying over mudflats,
over sea-lavender.

This small bird grows
embracing our summer warmth,
swooping on insects caught
above rolling grasslands.
It dips and tumbles gracefully,

But what instinct tells of winter's cold?
This bird, hand-sized, will
fly over the Pyrenees,
thirst through the parched Sahara,
soar and glide on trade winds,
south to The Cape of Africa
drawn, inexplicably, to the heat
of the southern sun.

In early spring does
this swallow's courageous heart
grow restless, homesick for
a Suffolk barn?
Is it a miracle that some force
of nature returns this minute bird
to its birth-nest by the English sea?
Who knows, but it seems so to me.


With very best wishes, Patricia


Jessica said...

I am so glad you have written on your blog again this week. Well done for being so determined, Mum.
I'm sure you are right that Geoffrey would have wanted you to.
Swallows are my favourite birds: they are so beautiful and I am always so happy to have my first sighting in the spring bring the promise of summer. Lovely poem - whatever scientist explanation there may be I think their migration and rerun is a miracle too.

Anonymous said...

So very sorry to learn of your news! I hope you're are reflecting on a life well lived and surrounding yourself with friends and family. Sending lots of love xx

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you. Sending you lots and lots of love. Swallows are my favourite birds too. Xxxx

Rachel said...

Beautiful words. You are such a talented poet. I will be there for tea soon. Missed you lots Mrs Ellis. All my love xxxx