On Sunday I heard the cuckoo call for the first time this year. So summer’s really here!
Only a few years ago I wouldn’t have associated the cuckoo’s call with a live bird – just the little figure that pops out of a clock at regular intervals. I assumed the real bird was probably extinct or at least rare (I must have been confusing it with the Dodo or, more likely, the Corncrake).
But since we moved the country several years ago, I’ve learned to expect the cuckoo’s call each year – and I know it heralds the approach of summer. It’s a difficult bird to spot as it prefers to stay hidden as it searches for a mate. As I go about my chores around the farm I hear him in the forestry at the edge of our property. His call is background music in my world.
When I hear the call, I’m also reminded of the association the cuckoo’s call holds for Erich, the main character in my novel Hitler and Mars Bars. The bird’s call reminds him of his German homeland and the people he left behind, rousing an intense yearning to see his loved ones. It amazes me that a sound can evoke vivid memories and longings.
I first encountered the cuckoo in Ireland, my adopted country. So its call is intrinsically linked in my mind with my new land and new experiences that, I’m sure, will become fond memories. So, while I’m building the memories, I’ll enjoy the season and welcome summer with the elusive bird.