Spring in volunteers’ house

Ice on Slievenakilla waterfall already loses the battle

Through winter-time we call on spring

When I first heard of the fact that spring in Ireland starts on 1st February, I couldn’t quite believe it. Why, Belarusian word for February – люты (luty) – literally means ruthless, fierce – meaning the frosts that usually reign over Eastern Europe on this month. So it’s not planting that comes to my mind when I think of February. GEAI team has already discussed some plans for it, while back in Belarus the gardening season usually starts in April. Even then, we have a lot of preparations beforehand, nurturing the sprouts in pots on windowsills, waiting for warm days. But when I explore the traditions following the Irish calendar, it does make sense. And once the weather gets warmer – the more reason there is to go for a walk!

We’re great walkers here in the volunteer house. But do you know this feeling, when you go out to stretch your legs for a bit, and you end up walking miles, just because the weather is so fine? This is exactly what has happened to me lately.

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey

I made it a habit here in Ireland to go for a walk without headphones. One of my first memories upon my arrival here was an utter silence of our street in the night with the full moon slowly emerging from behind a house on a hill. On a windless day it doesn’t get any louder than an occasional car passing by or the church bells ringing at 6 pm. This experience is soothing and I treasure it very much.

Mind you, I grew up in a big city, so when I first went to the seaside years ago, I was astonished when I realised that the constant murmur behind the trees is not the sound of hundreds of tyres on a beltway in the distance, but the waves breaking gently on the shore, which is definitely grander than the sound of the city.

Last year I was happy enough to listen to a choir of birds near a place where I was living. Still, sirens of emergency vehicles cut air almost every day, so I used to block the traffic sounds with a nice array of audiobooks.

You don’t have to go far to find the birds, sometimes you literally meet them on your doorstep

Did you know that consumption of audio content has dramatically increased during 2020? We are used to consuming a lot of information, and due to the pandemic we seem to have a larger stream of news flooding our minds. Some people call this phenomenon “information overload” or “infodemic”. This and a lack of face-to-face communicanion causes huge psychological distress for people, resulting in mental health pandemic too. Isn’t it a little bit too much?

But there’s good news: numerous studies have shown that spending time in nature and listening to the birds in particular helps us at the times of crisis.

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper

During my walks I can constantly hear birds here and there and everywhere. Look, there’s a bird sitting on the ridge of a roof, twittering away! Catkins of willows are about to blossom, you can already notice their fluffy tops on tree branches! But don’t forget to breathe lungful of warm air in!

So next time you’re going for a walk in the neighborhood, try to dump those Spotify podcasts, or that Audible audiobook and leave the trendy Clubhouse rooms for a while. Put on your comfortable shoes, get to know your feathered friends with BirdWatch Ireland and enjoy their happy twitter all around you. Because spring is in the air, spread the word!

Written by Tatsiana Lohinava

Quotes by W.B. Yeats