Nymph's in the garden?
Just as dawn breaks or sometime just before, I will lie perfectly still and listen to the birdsong. But at this time of year I listen for that extra sweet voice of the cuckoo and today, she came. I hardly dared to breath, knowing she would soon fly away again to make her home in another’s nest.
As a child, I remember sneaking out of the house and around the garden on tip toe, searching for the elusive bird. Sometimes my father would see me go, nod his head and wait for my return. But I would always come back disappointed.
About the same time as hearing the teasing bird, one may notice cuckoo spit on the stems of chrysanthemums, dahlias, fuchsias, lavender and rosemary. This, my father told me, had nothing at all to do with the cuckoo apart from the fact they arrive at the same time.
‘Inside that frothy white liquid, is a froghopper nymph!’ he once told me. ‘Little insects that use the froth to shield themselves from predators, plus it keeps them warm.’ My father loved being able to pass on information such as this, and I soaked up everything he told me.
I imagined the garden full of beautiful flying frogs with delicate wings. I called them the garden royals.
As they grew, I could see that their tiny faces resembled that of a frog. Incredible, I thought! I remember thinking that God was a wonderful artist.
These incredible little creatures and I had something in common. I loved to crawl under the sheets of the bed and read by the light of my torch, and the froghoppers would hold their wings together like a tent over their body and hide from the world. It was to be a lifelong connection.
So, to the Cuckoo and the Froghopper, I add you to the list of my Garden Royals.
And to my readers, I have added a poem once read to me by my father........
To the Cuckoo
O blithe New-comer! I have heard,
I hear thee and rejoice.
O Cuckoo! shall I call thee Bird,
Or but a wandering Voice?
While I am lying on the grass
Thy twofold shout I hear;
From hill to hill it seems to pass,
At once far off, and near.
Though babbling only to the Vale
Of sunshine and of flowers,
Thou bringest unto me a tale
Of visionary hours.
Thrice welcome, darling of the Spring!
Even yet thou art to me
No bird, but an invisible thing,
A voice, a mystery;
The same whom in my school-boy days
I listened to; that Cry
Which made me look a thousand ways
In bush, and tree, and sky.
To seek thee did I often rove
Through woods and on the green;
And thou wert still a hope, a love;
Still longed for, never seen.
And I can listen to thee yet;
Can lie upon the plain
And listen, till I do beget
That golden time again.
O blessèd Bird! the earth we pace
Again appears to be
An unsubstantial, faery place;
That is fit home for Thee!