Next year I’m going to have more earth in my world, as well as people. It’s one of my 2010 resolutions. To get myself in the mood I shinned up a birch tree on one of the local commons near where we live. Shortly afterwards I found an injured lapwing on the road and Mark and I slithered and skidded cross county to the Minsmere bird reserve to find someone who could give us a hand.
If you don’t know lapwings, have a look out next time you go past some agricultural fields in wintertime, especially near the coast. They are striking birds, piebald, flecked with green. They have a distinctive topknot on their heads and rounded wings and once stood for the earth's pied poetry because they are famous for leading predators away from their nest by feigning a broken wing.
To hold one of the wild things close is a rare encounter. She was quiet and alert in my hands for our perilous journey down the icy backroads. Sometimes to find the treasure of this life, we have to struggle very hard to make sense of it, the way you tussle with poetry to crack its code. The struggle is what reveals the mystery and beauty that lies deep at its heart. That’s something our ancestors knew and we have forgotten in our desire for comfort and convenience. And then sometimes, just outside an ancient tumulus on the turn of a year, you find yourself with a key. You remember what really matters, why you’re darning socks and learning to bake bread and engaging in this Transition – to keep life on earth going, an earth with woods and heath and rivers in it, and birds that gather in the sky.