April seems to be the month that nature really begins to emerge from the “quietness” of its winter shell. Plant life responds with new life and the budding process abounds. Bees visit early blossoms and birds sing out their varied songs.
Last year in early April, at the start of lockdown, I began the practice of sketching one emerging bud in the garden each day.
Sketches of emerging buds - Pencil with watercolour wash
This year I have been busy listening to the range of sounds that fill the air. Some, that really represent this month, have proved difficult to capture. I didn’t have my recording equipment the day I sat quietly by the fence and heard the sound of cows munching on fresh grass, having returned to the fields with their new calves. Next time I went out with my recorder, the cows were far away in the valley!
I did, however, create a small soundscape, in an attempt to encapsulate some of the other sounds that typify April. Listening on headphones will give you the full effect, hopefully immersing you in the sense of Spring.
A regular occurence in March – a gang of frogs appear from nowhere and, for a few weeks, “occupy” the pond in front of Studio Hundy. Their characteristic “croaking” can be heard from afar, as you walk down the garden approaching the pond. As they pick up your presence, this transforms into a multitude of “plopping” sounds as all the frogs dive below the surface. For a few minutes, until they gradually emerge again, the only visual evidence of their presence is the large clumps of spawn laying on, or just below the surface.
I managed to capture the croaking chorus by placing my field recorder on the edge of the pond, hiding in the studio, and using a remote extension. It also captures other characteristic Sounds of March in the background!
As the snow and freezing temperatures from the East gradually subided, melt water filled the local brook – the Eden water – bringing some beautiful sights and sounds. A short composite of two field recordings captures the richness of those sounds:
Icicles formed on Alder, growing in abundance on the banks, dipping their branches into the undulating currents of the now fast flowing stream.
Frozen pools on the valley floor created the unique patterns that only nature can offer.
The sound and movement of the water, in the quietness of a cold February day, inspired me to make a short video.
I have experimented here; bringing together the video footage with a multi-layered voice recording and nature sounds. The latter being recorded in situ with my hand-held Zoom H5 audio equipment.
Three and a half weeks on from the Spring Equinox, the clocks have changed and the light is gradually increasing. Signs of new life are abundant and buds in all shapes and forms are beginning to “blow”. An old English word:
blow3 /bləυ/v. & n. archaic. v.intr. burst into or be in flower. n. blossoming, bloom (in full blow). [OE blõwan f. Gmc]
Whilst not often found today, this word – for me – encapsulates nature at this time of year (Photo-gallery: Buds in Spring).
I came across its use in a song at our regular Thursday a capella singing group:
You have to believe that buds will blow,Believe in grass in days of snow,That’s the reason a bird can sing,On its darkest day it believes in spring
As spring unfolds and buds burst into bloom, bird song also brings the joy of new beginnings.
A sound recording I made in our local valley in 2017 brings something of that joyous spring calling to life.
With the gentle sound of the Eden water flowing in the background, the light was slowly fading and the various songs being sung resonated, as if in preparation for another new day.