Updated: Mar 12, 2020
Waking in the womb of my yurt several times during this late winter night, i hear strange wheezy breaths of someone small living in the walls insulation. Later, the quiet buzz of queen wasp who insists that this place is also where she will overwinter - an uneasy sharing as she often flies close to my face as drawn to the reading light and locates herself in the walls near it. Barn owl is testing out a small creaking call that I've not heard before; Vixen is wailing her desire across the alder woods and the sharp bark of dog fox in reply as they move towards life-making echoes, and its ending emphasises the silence..
It is the season of imbolc.. i open my eyes to darkness, to winds soft insistence and the sporadic spatter of rain on canvas.. Opening the door i see the misty valley arriving from nighttime - trees still in silhouette and five fallow deer navigating the deep rushy meadows like seals half-submerged, to the sound of rain glutted stream making its way down the hill. A bullfinch sits on hawthorn's branch close by - his markings seem unfeasibly bright, surreal against the grey-green merging of a welsh spring morning.
I feel loss as my ears attune to the quieter songs – in this season for ten years I heard the rich bubbling call of toad from beneath the yurt where he rested for winter. For the last five years there has been silence and the small splashes from the nearby pond that signify spawn arriving have left the song of this place and tadpoles no longer dart amongst the bullrushes.
I find myself wondering about the unique everyday song of this piece of land that is rewilding me. I’m tracking how its song changes as the seasons move through it, like my voice changes with the yearly seasons and life seasons as I move from maiden to mother to crone. Similar to how the pitch and tone of human voices change at puberty and with ageing, I wonder how this land sounded before the industrial revolution, the mass extinction … how the so-many-more insects, birds, mammals, trees, rivers sang together before the growl of the combustion engine was carried here on the east wind; the shriek of planes going over twenty times a day and the chainsaw snarling into living wood became the new “normal”. Before this diminished version of life on earth became what we call “wild”.
Yesterday I spent the whole day outside, gardening and wooding. Stillness, birdsong and west wind that meant that car noise was muted by its muffling moisture. As I added compost to the veggie beds, I was humbled again by the tenacity of life; in cold soil, calendula seeds are sending forth their simple two-leaf seedlings, and in leaf litter, sweet chestnuts and hazels are cracking open as their pristine white root protrudes from their rain darkened shells. I felt something stir in me, a sound like a sigh and a sob cracked me open as I felt the balance point of this seasonal shift..the relief for what has made it through the cold times and the sadness for what has not. Nuthatch is singing so passionately and relentlessly for a mate that, for a moment I wish I had grey wing feathers and a black stripe over my eye, so I could fly up and join him..
As ever, our unique songs are called for ..the song that you and I were born to sing. We are made from earth, by earth, for earth and there’s an old harmony we share with all those others that we live alongside on this green sphere hurtling through space to mystery-knows-where. It’s time now; it is time to find your part in that harmony, and sing it as wholeheartedly as nuthatch, east wind, stream, vixen, grief...at dawn on April 1st, join with others in an earth/song/wave and be a love-offering to the planet upon whom our existence depends.
Imbolc Gelli Aur Imbolc
all dead still
in my woods now-
smallest stirrings -
in darkest caverns
a sweet trickle
beneath bitter bark.
black against frost
woken, and he lives -
joy. Yule’s inbreath
ends with warmth and
Earth’s eyelids flutter.
Thank you Bell Selkie Lovelock for your offering for Earthsongwave Dawn Chorus 2020. Bell Selkie Lovelock has been rooting into Cymru for 25 years, rewilding alongside 40 acres of ex- chemical dairy land. Courting the edge where the worlds meet, and other-than-humans and dreamworld dialogue with consensus reality is her niche, and her writing arises from that ecotone. She calls her work the Resecration Project – restoring to sacredness those which have been desecrated, viewing this as part of a new indigeny and a direct action for system change. Bell Selkie Lovelock is also a contact for Earthsongwave Dawn Chorus in Wales.