It was a windy week: our tent blew down, our garden haven, and so I knew late autumn had arrived. I put my hand on the glass roof at 2am and felt the coming of ice. We ran into the darkness and fetched all the tender plants into the house. It's the bletting time: a time you wait for the hips and sloes and medlars to begin their sweet collapse. It's a time you wait inside as dusk comes and are sometimes surprised by the sound of a bird singing.
I found this young thrush in the road. He was still warm, without a mark on him. Newminted from a spring nest in a summer hedgerow. I held him for a moment and laid him under a blackthorn full of sloes. Two long-tailed tits came and danced around us.
That's something else you can't photograph. The pain in your heart when something is gone. A beautiful singer who won't sing his mistle song, his great joyful sound in a time of elegy and loss in the woods when Winter's dregs made desolate/The weakening eye of day. In a land where thrushes are fast disappearing. In a world that is fast losing its songbirds and its poets. On a day when you struggle to pick up the camera and go into the lane and photograph the colours and shapes of those things you write . . . . and yet you go. Because something inside you won't stop loving the world, no matter what weather comes. It's a covenant we made with the earth a long time ago.
Bird in the hand; rosehips in the lane; Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy. Post originally written on This Low Carbon Life Nov 2011