The summer heat has come, dustily settling across the fields and with it, the weighty, drowsiness that hums and buzzes in the head. The noontime hedges are as still as the night-time ones and the trees click and stretch beneath the sun. But the lethargy is short lived; the summer is still young, it hasn't yet shaken off the new-yeast of spring. The elder that the park-keeper laboured to cut back last month, explodes with green, lacy life, rearing in delight; defiantly laughing at the clean straight edges loved by sheers and humankind.
Two days ago, in the rain, I came across a dead rook - a juvenile, black beaked, full size. It lay upon the grass; perfectly formed, its eyes closed, as if sleeping. The crack willows by the pond were its dripping pall. The jackdaws and rooks were silent. Its blackness seeped into the sodden ground in the way that night creeps across the field, grass blade by grass blade. Penny sniffed around its iridescent body. I felt an irrational sorrow swim round my veins. Will its presence here on earth be missed and its death be mourned? Will its family watch out for its return and feel the stab of its absence? Crows, we are told, can recognise humans who have caused them harm for a year or more after the initial offence. Fields where danger has been perceived are avoided and news of it spread around the entire colony which is then handed down generation by generation. For how long will this young rook be grieved?
But today there is no body. There is no evidence of it at all on that grassy patch. The ground is bone dry as if even the trace of water falling from the lifeless feathers must be eradicated. Still grows the sweet smelling elder. For some, the world is not large enough to contain all this joy and sadness.