Published in The Willowherb Review
We used to have free bird guides posted through our letter box every now and then. They were colourful, thin sheets of paper, folded into leaflets or stapled into books, with drawings of what birds you might see in the garden. I didn’t know where they’d come from or why they came to us, but when I’d get home from school and find them laying on the floor I’d grab them, run to the garden door, pull up a chair, wait, and watch. I’d tell my mum in amazement, “Those aren’t just pigeons in the garden, they’re WOOD pigeons!” while she kept me company in the dining room and worked through the day-to-day list of things that kept our lives going.
The crystals were melting from the air and the sun was testing its height in the lead up to longer days. I saw loads of small blobs, blue and the size of my fist with a yellow belly and white patched eyes. My guide said blue tit, and I laughed, embarrassed. There was so much potential to be found in the garden. The more I flicked through the sheets of my guide, the more time I’d spend by the garden window over the next few weeks, watching the blue tits and wood pigeons. The more I flicked through the sheets of my guide, the more time I’d spend by the garden window. On the very last page of these sheets of bird guides that came free through our letter box was the grey heron.