Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Like a Gift

The Christmas break is over, and it was, for various reasons, a rather gruelling one - but redeemed by the great joy of having my daughter back from New Zealand, and the equally great but more familiar joy of having my son around. A highlight as ever was Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve in this fine church. Another, on the last day of the break, bookended it perfectly. Walking with my daughter in glorious winter sunlight - crisp, low and golden-clear - I spotted a bird I couldn't at first identify, sitting restlessly on a wire fence. For a wonder, it stayed there long enough for me to raise my binoculars, locate it and focus on it - when I realised, to my quite inordinate delight, that it was a Tree Sparrow. I hadn't seen one in a long while, and had forgotten how pretty and charming these little sparrows - now on the Red List of endangered species - are. Both my daughter and I had time to take a good look, and soon the first was joined by a second bird, which also posed obligingly as we oohed and aahed. It felt like a gift, and, back at work on a wet grey day, the memory of the encounter is still warming and exalting.