Autumn Morning – October 1923

It had rained, of course, through the night, and morning had not wiped her tears away when the thrush began to sing.

There are many birds, notably the blackbird, which are most moved to exuberant song by mild moisture. Not so the boldest songster of them all, the song-thrush, the “mavis” of Scottish song. He loves brilliant skies and sunshine and all conditions suggestive of the joy of life. He chooses the topmost branch of the tree for a platform, and looks around him with assured and confident air between the phrases of his piercing song.

But this morning, he imitated the mellow softness of his cousin, the blackbird, and was as shy as a wood-wren. Probably the song was that of a young thrush practising. There seemed to be a score of them rushing from tree to tree, and it was impossible to distinguish the one that sang, so gentle and brief was the performance. And although I had spotted it, I could not have told whether it was five months old or seventeen.

Later in the morning, a string of wild geese, crying “honk! honk,” flew over northwest-wards. The plovers were wheeling in flocks and little companies of linnets and finches flittered among the stooks and the hedges and, when startled, took refuge in the shelter of the coppice.

The earth beneath is saturated with moisture but, whenever a half-day of breeze and sunshine comes along, there is a stir among the stooks in the sodden fields. Steam threshers are at work within many a gateway, clearing the stubble in those blessed intervals when the fog lifts and the rain clouds depart — to annoy a neighbouring parish before returning to us.

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