Things unseen

We are at the mercy of things unseen.

This has been made especially obvious during the coronavirus pandemic: the virus is unseen as it transmits from person to person to person, inflicting suffering on many and asking some to pay the ultimate price.

What is unseen, when it is a virus, or an intruder at night, or the person whose footsteps we can hear behind us on a deserted street, can bring us great fear.

But there is beauty too in things unseen.

For a number of weeks now, a yellowhammer has been singing from a hedge at the front of our house.

the unseen beauty of the yellowhammerA yellowhammer is a small yellow bunting, and because it nests in hedges late in the summer, it is vulnerable to hedge-cutting that takes place in late summer and early autumn, and because of this its numbers are tracked carefully by scientists and ornithologists.

It is more often heard than seen.

From Birdwatch Ireland:

The song is a frequently repeated “sri-sri-sri-sri-sri-zu”, initially increasing in pitch, before descending on the last note.

In yore, the song was given words — “A little bit of bread but no cheese” — with the last note (“cheese”) delivered at a significantly lower note than the rest.

The yellowhammer outside our house seems to be singing this song incessantly, almost every minute from morning until night.

And while we have seen yellowhammers, sitting atop a bush or on the branch of a tree, this guy has so far remained steadfastly invisible.

But he’s there, delivering his song from first light to last, and although he is unseen to our eyes, he is transcendentally beautiful nonetheless.