Ineluctable modality of the aerial, at least that if no more, flight through my eyes…
Apologies, dear readers — if there are any left — for this flight from accessibility. You will see from the date that this is Bloomsday: the anniversary of the day on which the fictional events of Ulysses took place in 1904.
This book, deeply dear to me, has haunted my life, and so every passing of the great date must be acknowledged in some way. My opening sentence is adapted from the third chapter of Ulysses.
In chapter thirteen Mr Bloom sits on the beach in the late dusk of June; as the sky darkens a bat flies around him. There’s not a lot of natural history in Ulysses, but you can find everything in its pages if you look long enough.
So I emulated Bloom by sitting out beneath the slowly darkening sky. Unlike Mr Bloom, I had not recently savoured the mild exhibitionism of an obliging young lady, but I was content enough.
No bats, not yet, but there were plenty of swifts. This seems to me a good year for swifts, for the most aerial of all birds. Are there more of them about than last year? Or has lockdown brought me into circumstances where I am just seeing them more often?
Either way, the swifts wooshed and zoomed over our few acres of marsh, feasting on aerial plankton, which they gathered again and again with high-speed jinks and grabs. They might be heading to a nest to roost, but I suspected these were unpaired birds, saving the adventure of breeding for another year.
If so, they wouldn’t roost at all that night. Instead, as it grew darker still they would climb beyond the reaches of my vision and once high enough they would sleep on the vast spreading bed of the sky, wings still extended, zooming even in sleep.
Come. I thirst. I promised myself a glass, not alas of Jameson’s, as I moved to evening lands.