The other day there appeared in “The Times” two short letters, one saying that a chiffchaff had been seen on Chipperfield Common and another that a cuckoo had been heard.

For years we have been dubious about that early cuckoo, but now we are inclined to throw all doubts aside. We welcome the “wandering voice” even if the breath of March chills our bones. For to speak of birds is to take our attention from the war, and to be reminded that “spring will soon unlock the flowers and paint the laughing soil,” as good Bishop Heber sang.

Soon sullen winter will be behind us, if not forgotten; the sun will shine, the green leaves unfold, the birds swell their chorus. From all nature the frozen mantle will be withdrawn; the yearly miracle will be repeated. What refreshment for our spirits is here!

Happy are we in Hertfordshire with a wide countryside full of charm, where bluebells make a carpet, where the cherry blossoms profusely, where leafy domains welcome us to grateful shade and where the peace of Heaven reigns. Never did we welcome spring with such open arms. The long dreary night is passing.

[From the Watford Observer of March 21, 1941]

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