The Song of the Blackbird

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Liv and I dander home from the park, and the ice-cream shop, and on days like this it seems to me like nothing’s changed.

There is something about their childhood that makes me feel like I am going through mine again. But this time, I know to pay attention.

It’s a little bit like that film, About Time, where Tim lives his day over again. “The first time with all the tensions and worries that stop us noticing how sweet the world can be, but the second time noticing.”

*

There is something about the dandering. Something about the dandelion and daisy collecting, the hopping up and down curbs, the having to walk along any wall (or cobbled edge that passes for a wall) that makes me feel like nothing’s changed.

*

I go for a walk with my mum along the towpath and the teenagers who emerge as we enter are a flash back to my youth – faded black jeans and checked shirts and nirvana t-shirts, boys with scruffy fringes poking out under black beanies.

Along the towpath it could be 10, 20 years ago. I know we have iPads and Amazon Prime in our homes, but you can’t see them here. I know we are filled with dispirited nostalgia sometimes, convinced that everything’s changed. I know our landscapes often seem unrecognisable, but not today.

“Hear that sound?”, mum asks. Blackbirds singing.  “It reminds me of when I was a girl, walking in Barnett’s Park on summer Sunday evenings after church.”

Along the towpath it could be 10, 30, 50 years ago.

*

“Tig, you’re it!” they shout as they emerge from the door of nursery, dancing around each other’s feet, bonding through those ancient words we once shouted too. After Liv has chased her chums to their cars we go for a walk among the allotments. A dander. Interspersed with bursts of Tig. The girls are sweaty and grubby and beautiful. There is a blog post forming in my head, I should get a picture of them here in the long grass and the buttercups.

I think of these places, these little pockets of grass and wild yellow flowers, where it feels like nothing’s changed. I think of these places where I feel the gift of childhood all over again, and I realise I don’t need a photograph.

These sights and smells and sounds and songs get captured anyway. I let them run, like my mum let me run, no camera in sight. I let them be wildly beautiful, just for me.

I let them be.

*

We are filled with dispirited nostalgia sometimes, convinced that everything’s changed, maybe ruined. But do you hear that? The song of the blackbird. Let it remind you of those summer Sunday evenings, but also, listen to it now. We can’t travel back but we still get to live, to dander, on these extraordinary, ordinary days.

“And in the end I think I’ve learned the final lesson from my travels in time; and I’ve even gone one step further than my father did: The truth is I now don’t travel back at all, not even for the day, I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.”

[Tim, About Time]

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