Tonight the sun will set at 10 o’clock. Precious, precious sun. I want to sit in the back yard, tune out the sqwarking baby upstairs and the village skanks in their Vauxhall Corsas, then watch the sky until the last bit of light has drained.
This will be my fourth Scottish summer. I’ve completely erased the memory of Australian summers, where it was so hot I was an apple in the mouth short of resembling a pig on a spit. Now I’ve completely adapted to the Northern Hemisphere, thus finding today’s maximum temperature of 21 degrees (70’F) positively subtropical.
Would you believe that for the past three days I have walked to the train station at 6.45AM without a jacket. After months of darkness, scarves and coats, it feels almost obscene to feel a breeze crawl up the hairs on your forearms. Not to mention sunlight oozing over bare toes! You may as well be naked.
Until I lived here I never understood the big deal about seasons. I remember in high school English, when John Keats asked, “Where are the songs of spring?”. My response was, “WHO CARES!”.
And how dull to write a whole stinking Ode To Autumn in the first place. Seasons to me were just endless variations of Hot, occasionally interrupted by rain or hayfever.
But now I’m sad bastard who crows at the sight of a blossom after a long winter. I’d gladly pen poems about bunnies and bumble bees if only I had the rhyming skills.
Instead I’ve been doing the next best thing: tuning into Spring Watch. Non-Brits will remember Bill Odie as the wee one from The Goodies, but apparently somewhere along the line he turned into a birdwatching camouflage-wearing nature-guru TV presenter.
L: Goodie Bill, R: Spring Bill
At first I couldn’t believe something as tedious as Spring Watch would be allowed on air. Basically, there’s Bill Odie and crew on some farm in England, poking cameras into ponds, nests and burrows. Then they wait and they wait and they wait. Then the footage of various creatures engaging in springtime activities is broadcast in a prime time slot every weeknight. There’s a lot of bird migration stories, bird-on-bird action stories, bird laying eggs stories, bird fishing for insect stories, bird leaving the nest stories.
When Spring Watch returned last week I screamed at the telly, “Not freaking Bill Odie and his freaking birds again? WHO CARES!?”.
Because British animals are boring. They don’t kill you. They don’t bite, maim or strangle. They don’t have to trek through a desert for water, or run like the clappers from a roaring bushfire. They don’t sit in trees getting drunk on eucalyptus. They don’t eat babies. Without fangs, poison or fearsome jaws of death, where’s the entertainment value?
But somehow this year I’ve been hooked, just in that idle half hour before The Daily Show starts. I blame the Red Squirrels for being so rare and prettier than the bastard Grey Squirrels. Then the badgers were endearing, digging tunnels at midnight. Then the kingfisher was fishing and the otters were frolicking in Shetland. All these creatures I’d only previously known from Beatrix Potter books. Tits, swallows, robins, wrens!
British animals may not be cold-blooded tourist killers, but they are cute and wholesome; and entertaining in their own way. Where was I going with this? I can’t remember. It’s 10.47 now and there’s still bits of blue outside.
Spring Rules. That’s all I meant to say.