The second or maybe even third hatchings are taking place. The hedges and dark corners are alive with scruffy squawks. The older rooks play dodge and twist on the field followed by their insistent clamouring young. Our runner beans are regularly plundered and the garden now blooms with spinning, scratched CDs and ragged carrier bags that play upon the wind like corporate prayer flags. Everywhere is enthused with the untidy energy of youth...
And now here they come in a small gaggle down main street. A little knot of girls singing and shrieking; daring the world to look at them with that eggshell-thin, fragile, belligerence of adolescence. Dressed in little more than their fathers' high blood pressure they trip the kerb to Oxhill Road and the sky is filled again with shrill laughter and bad language. Every shriek, every movement, calls fearfully out to an uncomprehending world in which they have found themselves flung. There are no easy Edens for us sons and daughters of Adam.
"I AM HERE. AND THIS IS ME..." They say.
They fall silent as they walk past and then collapse in snorts and giggles, their arms around each other's shoulders and necks. And I love them for it; I love them for their heroic "barbaric yawp" that signals their presence in this world... in this village... on this little inconsequential street on one summer's afternoon at the razored edge of their childhoods... I'm drawn into their terrifying, wonderful, invigorating, intimidatingly indifferent worlds.
Do the little, feathered scruff-balls that dart beneath the garden hedges also feel this? Lifting their voice to the blank, unyielding sky for the first time. Is their piping call clear and sound? Or do they fear that no one will notice; that their voice is too cracked, that their song won't work? Do they fear that they too might be ultimately... unlovable?
They turn the corner, by the maple that flames wine-red in autumn and pass out of sight.
But their voices still ring among the flights of lazy bees.
"THIS IS ME. I AM HERE AND I AM BEAUTIFUL..."
...and if there is a slight shake and hesitation over the last word that turns it more into a question than a statement, let us pretend not to notice it.
...For yes you are so very, very very beautiful...
but for none of the reasons you think...