A moment of fine uncertainty brought me to a halt. Was it? Surely it was. It must have been. What else could it be? And yet when I listened all I could here was the deafing wind.
Eddie and my father’s dog Bessie had walked with me away from marshes into the loftier fields we amusingly call “hills” in this part of Norfolk. Boy and dog were playing Bessieball; I was looking at the vastness of the sky in search of a small black dot.
But there were only clouds, light clouds with darker streaks, a silver sabled. And now I couldn’t hear it at all. Chaffinch, wren and dunnock in the scrubs behind me, couple of rooks and a black-headed gull in flight. I looked again for a tiny black yoyo being slowly reeled up on an invisible string, but it had gone. If it was there in the first place.
I bet it was though. A sudden underheard snatch of poured and pelted music from high above: it could only have been a skylark, the first of the spring, full of hot urgency on this chilly day.
Perhaps it was on its way down now. The field before me was stubble, open, flat: just what I’d choose if I was a skylark, at least if I had guarantees from the farmer that the field would remain unploughed. I’m certain to hear a skylark in this spot later this spring.
But here was an ambiguous anticipation, half skylark, half my own familiarity with the song. Teasingly, he offered no confirmation, leaving me to wonder if I had imagined it, taken a jumble of notes from the other birds and fitted them to my skylark memory.
Come. Time to move. Eddie and Bessie needed their suppers, and the skylark, if it was a skylark, needed his rest. What times we’ll all have in the warmer days. Such larks, Pip. Such larks.