A walk along the Aberdare Canal this morning I noticed my impatience. Nothing ‘interesting’ seemed to catch my attention. Yet I was walking along a dis-used canal that was slowly being overtaken by nature… it was teeming with life if only I paid more attention to it.
I noticed the decomposing leaves and other material around me, feeding the next season’s growth.
I noticed the snowberry (symphoricarpos albus) white berries on a bare tree (see photograph). They looked like artificial decorations against a dull, monotone background.
A few ducks on the canal, the only wildlife I could see on the canal itself. As Basil Fawlty would say “if you don’t like duck.. you’re out of luck”.
Then on the way home, I saw a kingfisher. What a beautiful sight to behold, the bird swooped over the canal, resting on a branch for a while, then resuming flight. The flash of blue and orange like a flame.
This is only the fourth kingfisher I’ve ever seen. It’s been the best sighting as the bird flew and settled on several branches giving me time to appreciate. All the other sightings have been in the Cynon Valley… two near the River Cynon and one near the lake at Dare Valley Country Park.
This spectacle today fired my imagination. I was reminded of poet Gerard Manley Hopkins’s opening line in his 1877 sonnet
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.
I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.
As well as his sonnet God’s Grandeur (also written 1877)
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
My camera was not sophisticated enough to capture an image of this bird in flight. It’s something to be experienced first hand.