100 things I love/4

Skylarks

Even the name is joyful.

We heard our first ones of the year the other day – on a cold, bleak February afternoon, they were there, flinging themselves at the sky. For a moment it was summer, because skylarks are summer. They are lying on the short turf above Sandymouth. They are sunshine and blue skies, and the sound of the sea as a soft layer underneath their singing.

Our local beach is Westward Ho!. We go up the Sandymere end, away from the town. There’s a links course there, and dozens of skylarks. You hear them as soon as you get out of car, but by the time you’ve crossed the pebble ridge, the sound of the sea is too strong – the skylarks are gone. It’s always hard to spot them – they fly so high, climbing up into the blue. It’s easier in winter, when they seem to stay lower.

I love the music they’ve inspired: Vaughn Williams, of course, but also Glinka. My son plays an arrangement of Glinka’s The Lark on the piano, and it’s beautiful. When he plays it, I stop what I’m doing and listen.

But I love the actual song of the actual bird the most. I don’t remember hearing it anywhere but here in Devon, near the sea. It’s the sound of Enid Blyton days, of buckets and spades, of ice-cream. It’s lugging too much stuff with us. It’s ginger biscuits and flasks of coffee, and putting on a jumper because this is an English summer and it’s always windier than you think it will be. It’s stopping to listen, and saying “Oh – a skylark!”.

About sarahsouthwest

I'm now in my early 50s. I started writing again as a way of exploring the world, and feel that over the last 2 years I have really grown as a writer. By day I work with children and young people with mental health difficulties. I juggle my own two children, my work, my writing practice, generally managing to keep all the balls up in the air.
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2 Responses to 100 things I love/4

  1. your ode to a skylark is indeed something to love and the last paragraph summons such chummy summery images. Looking for skylark nests was something I spent hours doing as a child – the challenge being they land away from it and run to it so I never did find one. I hear them frequently in country meadows and arable fields but not so far this year

  2. foodinbooks says:

    We don’t have skylarks here in the American Southwest, at least none that I’ve ever seen, so your skylark poem is doubly beautiful. I hope you’re doing well.

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