Springing Along

I ran naked this evening. Well, almost. Off came my headphones, phone, camera, luminous top, leggings, fleece, underarmour, beanie, leaving me gloriously free in t-shirt, shorts, socks and runners.

And all because, for three blissful hours, we actually had Spring here in Ireland. Spring! 

Running naked meant I could get right out there and, like Bacchus strutting his drunken stuff,  could revel joyfully in Nature`s glories.

I took a new route. It brought me along the main road from town, with all it`s attendant traffic. But this road also has very decent hedges and it was there I spotted two yellow hammers at pretty close range.

Those little yellow beauts are my favourite bird. I just adore the softness of their yellow and their `little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheese`song. I remember them from childhood in the West of Ireland. Then, suddenly, they became scarce, in this country, anyhow. Luckily, they`ve made quite a comeback. And the hammer in their name? If I`m right, the word “hammer” is derived from the Nordic for head.

And if I`m wrong, I`m guessing some smartass will tell me.

Anyway, rambling on, and I saw magpies – a whole heap of them-nesting high up in the trees. The collective noun for them is conventicle though. `Whole heap`doesn`t quite cut it. And yes, I had to google for that collective noun, so I`m not that smart or wise really.

Apart from rooks, magpies have proven to be the most abundant bird I`ve come across in all my perigrinations. I suspect that something got to their intelligence. And the fact that they`ll eat anything.

Other birds scatter when they hear the magpie`s rattling call. And, of course, humans aren`t too fond of sighting a lone one either. Remember the verse  “One for sorrow, two for joy…” ? Though in times gone by, the more common cry in Ireland, on meeting a lone magpie was “Aon áthas”meaning “One for joy”.

Saw a pair of bullfinches after that. And realised- duh!- all the birds are pairing off because, of course, they have the message too that it is indeed Spring.Time to get down to the dangerous, but necessary, business of mating.

Passed a dead pigeon. Maybe he came a cropper in the dating game. Hung around too long for his date maybe, and was squished by a car? Or tried to impress with his dare devil antics on the telephone wires?

Glancing upwards. I was treated to a delightful evening sky. The kind of sky that would make you long for home if you weren`t already in Ireland. The horizon was fringed with grey cloud banks. The sky itself was palest blue, with wisps of white, and with an occasional taupe cumulus, edged in reds and pinks.

Two swans flew passed the clouds, heading west toward the sun. They were followed by three more, equally elegant in flight, and reminded me of a great old Irish tale, “The Children of Lir” . That story tells of Lir`s children who had been turned into swans by their jealous stepmother.

Suburban gardens didn`t disappoint either. My favourite flower, the tulip, is very much making its presence felt right now. It looked especially well in one garden where red ones stood in clusters amid deepest blue aubretia. And daffofils are still holding their own too. They were at their best running in a long line along the roadside. While, here and there, the occasional cherry tree bore it`s weighty white blooms well. They remind me always of Housman poem, “Loveliest of  trees the cherry now/is hung with bloom along the bow/And stands amid the woodland ride/wearing white for Easter tide”

More pigeons. This time three. It was an interesting set up. One guy stood alone, and quite still on one wire. He seemed to be observing his pigeon neighbours, They were engaged in a mating ritual, it seems. Or at least the male pigeon was. He`d sidle over to the female and then curtsey. A proper head down, arse up curtsey. Well,Lady Pigeon was having none of it. She pointedly ignored his entreaties. In fact, her coolness made him seem all the more silly for ever even trying. I felt like telling him she was leading him up the garden path and to scoot while the going was good. Give the other guy a chance, maybe, to try his luck with Lady Ice Pigeon?

But  the pigeons would have to sort out their own problems. I had a mission of my own. A route to run.And I was nearly done.

Three point five six miles. Average pace ten minutes.

No, not Roger Bannister. But I doubt he was taking in the scenery on his four mile run.

I, on the other hand, spent a delightful forty minutes, running around and taking in all the sights and sounds of Spring.

Running almost naked. Yes, I highly recommend it.