So I find myself in the beautiful English countryside, walking along a path through the fields, and for the first time in years, possibly since childhood, I hear a skylark singing.

I scan the sky to try to spot him, so as to watch him plunge, like I used to years ago when I went on walks through the country with my (late) father.  I don’t see him, but the sound is so clear, and like a shock to my system.  In my brain, a dormant file is accessed.  This is such a familiar sound, though I haven’t heard it for decades.

I had a conversation with one of my hosts about city dwellers who have genuinely never seen a cow before; about children who think a cow is one inch high because they’ve only ever seen pictures in books.  I find myself wondering how many Londoners would recognise and identify the sound of a skylark.

My customary profundity kicks in.  Thirty years living in London and never hearing skylarks – and yet the sound feeling so familiar and so special when heard again.  It’s like a sudden reminder that – wow, the countryside is still here!  It’s been here all long, like a parallel universe.  That I can choose to visit, or return to, whenever I wish.

A skylark singing – a joyful, continuous, trilling song, high up in the air, so unlike any other British bird.

The sound of the countryside.
The sound of England.
The sound of Spring.
The sound of my childhood.
The sound of forgotten memories.
The sound of the past.
The sound of life.


Skylark poem

A skylark sings high in the sky
Reminding me of times gone by.
How many men, long years ago,
Have stopped to hear him singing so?
What does he think, as he looks down,
At people heading off to town?
Perhaps he calls on them to stay,
So they can hear him every day.
And as for me, I’ll be back soon
To hear his joyful country tune.

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