harbingers of summer

What to Look for in Summer, by E. L. Grant Watson, published by Ladybird, 1960
A delight: First the swallows skimming the water while visiting the Lizard and twirling and dancing in the air above us. Then a few days ago, the swifts screaming through the skies, just being their joyful selves. Always something that makes me feel very happy - what marvelous summer guests! Then most recently a yellow wagtail by the side of the river, stood on a rope tethering a boat. Leaping and flipping up and down off his line, seemingly having so much fun. And for no apparent reason. Until you moved further along the path and the light changed and you realised the whole charade was in fact him catching tiny flies.

A shock: Swimming on Saturday, and for the first time I can really remember, felt nervous. It was choppy and the water was all churned up, so that beneath me strange, only partially recogniseable forms loomed up at me. But this isn't unusual and doesn't normally cause concern. Just a strange feeling, that something wasn't quite right. Out in the bay, at the buoys, discussing my sense of unease with my fellow swimmer and we turned in the water to look out to sea and saw two large fins moving away from us. 

In spite of myself, knowing that it wouldn't be anything dangerous, that of course, it was a basking shark - investigating the bay because the water's warmer and the the plankton has all been dredged up by the blustery weather - I felt utterly vulnerable. We made a swift return to shore. No one on the beach had seen anything and we started to feel a little insane. But we definitely saw something very similar to this. Sort of reassuring. This less so (Musicfreaky944's comment has pretty much hit the nail on the head). But must remember, they are harmless beasts, just huge (up to 40ft!) and rather shy in fact. And next time perhaps I should listen to my instincts if I don't want to rub shoulders with my rather large watery comrades. Or be brave and swim out to them. Working on it.

(By the way, thank you to all my swim sponsors over at virginmoneygiving and also my mysterious anonymous sponsors. I love some intrigue. Just not so sure when it has big black fins on it…)