14 January 2007

April Song

"... the song was wordless; the singing will never be done."
Siegfried Sassoon

The sound rolled across the surface of the lake like the gradual crescendo of some Russian Choir moving through their cathedral battering the ears of the Almighty with petition and praise. It was Eastertide in the Correze but our choristers were a great company of green pool frogs sitting on the lily pads which spread from one end of the lake to the other. One frog, agitated by a predatory hedge pig snuffling along the far bank, began the chant which was slowly taken up by hundreds of his brethren. Then, as it had begun with a single voice and grown into an immense triumphal shout of “Allelu-ee-a”, it died gradually away from the mighty chorus to a single soft note from somewhere in the middle of the lake.

Only a few yards away from us among the fine old trees of the deserted parkland young red squirrels played. They darted up the huge pines like tongues of crimson flame cauterising the old winter bark and burnishing the new spring growth. Common lizards roamed around and about or lay on small rocks basking in the gentle April sun. Shy creatures by nature, they largely ignored us, their attention concentrated on the abundance of new springtime food and the exigencies of the rapidly approaching mating season. In mid-western France where we were, the trees were already in new leaf, the rough grasses were studded with tiny yellow and blue flowers, the lake shimmered in the sunshine and the ubiquitous wood pigeon chortled happily to itself as it surveyed its newly rich April forest home.

Later in the afternoon with Oliver and his writing safely ensconced in the salon, I took my crutches and poled down into the village. Accompanied by a loud chorus of “Bonjour Madame. Ca va?” I made my way into the Place de l’Eglise. The church of La Roche Canillac is one of the several rather dull churches of the region - a box of unadorned stone rather like a Yorkshire barn, a bell-wall instead of a tower, but with an unlocked door and a quiet interior which said “Come in. You are welcome.”

The incense of the morning Mass lay heavy in the air and the massive Paschal Candle rose high above the sanctuary. On a chair close to the statue of the Virgin I sat down and chatted to the Lady about the great festival of revival we had found at the lake. I was no longer a Christian and had never had any special devotion to Our Lady, but I talk to seagulls, to the moon in the night sky, so why not to Mary the mother of Jesus? Sitting in this small French rural church I perceived myself united with anyone and everyone who celebrated the same miracle of rebirth I had glimpsed that morning. I lit a candle, as a symbol of my hope and of my thanks giving, and I went home singing.


Frogs by Liz