Saturday, July 25, 2009

19 gentle Pigeons – Regent’s Park

Friday July 24, 2009

I have asked the weather gods to let us have a dry evening. The sun has retreated behind the clouds but at least it is not actually raining.

July is a glorious month for municipal flowers. In June the roses abound, but in July, all manner of flower turns its face optimistically towards the sun. tonight, the flowers of Regent’s Park are doing their very best.

My companion has a way with words. She paints a feast of colours and textures as we walk through the park.

The Victorians knew a bit about floridness. We pass beds of dramatic deep velvety reds, as rich and robust as a plush curtain. They stand against black purple leaves, dramatic and stark.

A great bowl, borne on the backs of griffins burgeons nay even riots with blooms. It is dark purple and pale yellow, stark and startling.

Head high thistles make us feel like the little people. I reach up and explore their shaggy heads with my long cane.

A fountain splashes noisily. Pigeons flutter on the ground, soft white and cream, navy, grey and black, ringed, barred and plain.

We head for a bench under a tree. I dance around it scattering bird seed, casting a circle in a very literal sense. We sit down and along come the birds.

My companion waxes poetically about their beauty. A huge one with light grey wings and a purple brown chest with a white collar and turquoise blue shot silk head struts magnificently and then flies off. Three hungry pigeons variously grey with rainbow collars, peck industriously at the trail of seeds. The sky lowers and it begins to rain heavily.

I pull out two umbrellas, for my companion dresses for elegance rather than protection. I spread plastic over our knees.

“oh, there’s one with pink feet” she exclaims. We’re not sure if that isn’t perhaps a curious an interloping duck, happily paddling in the little lake which is gathering at our feet as the sky lets go its Burdon of rain.

“so much for the weather gods,” I say, getting up and preparing to move to somewhere more sheltered, “I can’t have made myself clear!”. We pack up and soggily walk off in search of shelter. As we leave the circle of munching pigeons, the rain stops and the sun pushes the clouds away.

We stand in its warmth, faces turned to drink in its energy and I cast another circle for the birds. A scirring of wings, a gentle fluttering, and down they come, encircling us, feasting, bobbing and bowing as they eat as though in thanksgiving for the bounty of the seed.

Cold and hunger has overtaken us and we walk on in search of hot food. From amongst the trees, a pigeon coos. I feel myself relax and smile to hear its soft gentleness. I coo back feeling suddenly very happy.

Before we know it, we are in the rose garden. The air is sweet with their gentle perfume. We stand in a shaft of sunlight and I cast another seed circle. Pigeons flutter from out of nowhere and begin to feast.

I feel something scratching at my left ankle, something heavy an furry. A huge great fat squirrel, bold and greedy is attempting to scale my left leg. I shake him off and he scampers round me and assaults my other leg. I dip my hands in the seed bag and toss them to him, as he grumpily tries to see off the pigeons. My trousers, the seed and my dignity is saved by the appearance of a small boy, determined to stroke the little creature. We walk on.

My companion’s hip hurts. My knees aren’t feeling too great ether. We’re both damp. We sit down on a bench and I scatter more seeds and sit to wait whilst she answers her phone.
Down come the fluttering ones. Scirring and whirring, they fill the air with their soft wings. Behind me, one coos and flutters, another alights to my right with a “thwo-thwo-thwo” of beating wings.

“ah” I say to myself as I feel my heart warm. Aphrodite’s doves circle us in love on the edge of the rose garden.

I sit in circled, enfolded by winged ones as they bob and peck, bow and dance about me. I hear their fluttering wings, their sweet cooing, I feel their energy, peacefully content.

“Beautiful rock doves” I whisper to them, for that is what they are, “thank you for being here, for being all over London, for being the symbol of London.” And I fall to thinking of how the pigeon comes to me, the messenger between the worlds, the symbol of peace and forgiveness and love, and I am happy.

My companion has finished her rather difficult phone call. She tells me of the black swan that I can hear noisily bathing in the nearby lake. Ducks quack and the pigeons continue to feast and coo and bob and bow.

We are both cold. I coo at the pigeons in farewell, toss them more seeds and walk off in search of hot soup.

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