A Birdcall

I grew up in a city on the Croatian coast. Vehicles speeding on the roads were a much more common sound on the 9th floor of the large apartment block, than a birds’ song, but the sea views connected us with the nature. Summers, however, were a completely different story. We’d spend almost 3 months in our seaside village holiday home. No big domestic animals around, but cats, dogs, birds, sea creatures, lizards and insects were a common sight.

We’d go angling, without much of success. We’d jump into a boat and head to the nearby island of St Mark, because the everyday beach activities seemed boring that day. Sometimes, while just riding around aimlessly, we’d encounter dolphins, who’d leap close to the boat. Playful, beautiful creatures they are, but even though we were kids, we knew that it wasn’t wise to swim with them in the open sea.

There in the village, one of my lifelong best friends had a seawater aquarium. He’d catch various fish with a small net, bring them in for a few days and let them free afterwards. He’d introduce me to the new residents, when I came to play or was passing through his house to go to the beach. I wish I’d taken a photo of that aquarium, but all of this was long before the smartphone era.

During those summers, it would rain on a rare occasion. We’d stay inside then, but hearing a birdcall meant that the skies would clear up soon. At least, this is what we used to say back then, back there, on the sunny Mediterranean.

Fast forward 35 years or so, today I woke up in England to a very grey and drizzly day, one that calls to stay in bed and read. As I heard a birdcall, I smiled. Pavlovian conditioning, I suspect. To my mind a bird’s cry in the rain still means that the sun would come out shortly, but here hours later the setting is as grey and wetter than before. By now, I should have learnt that there are places on Earth, where birds would never sing if they waited for sun to shine. I better follow their example, ignore the weather, whistle to greet the weekend and smile for everything that makes me happy on the rainy islands of Europe.

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