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  • Writer's pictureRosemary Lawrey

21 - Swallows and other susurrations

“Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I, but when the trees bow down their heads, the wind is passing by”. I have been reminded recently of this verse from a poem by Christina Rosetti, which I learned as a child. Almost two weeks ago, I was at Bembridge windmill, and was standing outside in the wind and rain, listening to the tour guide, and drawing the view at the same time. A small flock of chocolate brown curly-horned Hebridean sheep came over and clustered round to see what I was doing. So curious were they that I imagined them saying “what are you up to?” and me replying “I’m trying to draw the wind”. By the look on their faces, they thought I was very silly. I guess it is silly to try and draw the wind, but the wind is the very definition of mystery and movement, so to me it’s quite a tantalising notion. As we have been through almost every kind of weather in the past fortnight, I have been noticing the wind and the sounds it causes in all its different moods. Sitting in the sun one day outside a church, my friend and I listened to the gentle swaying of yew branches in a breeze. On another day, cool and breezy, during my walk from my front door, I listened to more ominous creakings of branches above my head as I walked down a tunnel of trees on one of my regular routes. This walk took me to a local nature reserve where tall reeds line the path on both sides.

Today’s feetmap is my attempt to paint the wind, and the soundtrack is the rustle of the sea breeze rippling through the flimsy stalks of the reeds at the nature reserve, accompanied, from up above, by the sound of fast-flying swallows, no doubt catching insects on the wing as they performed their high-speed aerobatics, keeping up a constant chatter as they went, a high-pitched twitter followed by a sort of whirring sound, making me think back again now to the windmill and its mechanisms. I flailed my mobile around in the air and was surprised at the sheer length of the tail plumes I had captured in this fuzzy image on its camera, too fast moving for me to have seen unaided. These birds live most of their lives in the air. Who better to unlock the mysteries of the wind?

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