We’ve been a bit troubled recently about our three latest baby house martins. The adult departure-for-sunnier-climes conferences on the telegraph wires have been getting noisier and – we’ve imagined – rather more urgent (UK heatwave this week notwithstanding). Mum and Dad have been keeping up a frenetic feeding / fattening schedule and we’ve heard plenty of affectionate conversation night and day. But the little chaps are still so tiny. Could they possibly be ready in time?
Panic, panic, panic …
Don’t panic! Three tinies headed out on the wing with joyful enthusiasm this morning. We marvelled at how they returned to the nest again and again with sometimes only seconds between their hopping in and out again, growing in confidence with such astonishing speed that soon the return to the nest involved no more than a fleeting peck at its walls, as though the martins were busy now, playing their first game of rounders! So now we move bravely on to bittersweet thoughts of their departure …
An August Midnight
A shaded lamp and a waving blind,
And the beat of a clock from a distant floor:
On this scene enter—winged, horned, and spined—
A longlegs, a moth, and a dumbledore;
While ‘mid my page there idly stands
A sleepy fly, that rubs its hands …
Thus meet we five, in this still place,
At this point of time, at this point in space.
—My guests besmear my new-penned line,
Or bang at the lamp and fall supine.
“God’s humblest, they!” I muse. Yet why?
They know Earth-secrets that know not I.
The insect world is beginning to feel cooler nights as the house martins, in conference on the telephone wires, are considering departure dates for warmer climes. But domestic houses made by human hands are treacherously dangerous to flying birds, long-legs, moth or fly. And I feel an obligation, wherever possible, to upend my nightstand lampshade, to set free the little creatures who, as Hardy has it, are, for all their tininess, party to life experience not known to my eye.