Today I learnt a new word - murmuration, which I think is a large number of starlings. Our good friend Emma, who regularly gives up her house in Cornwall to our brood, took us out to Rough Tor on Bodmin Moor. We got a brief glimpse of the starlings on the drive there - this is what we saw:
The visual effect of thousands of birds flying overhead for so long, is stunning, as is the hum of their wings in the air. What I thought was more surprising was the (imagined?) warmth from the trees and the amazing feeling of intimacy - you can't actually see the birds in the trees, but the noise makes you feel like your roosting up there with them.
How better to spend your valentines night experiencing a brief moment when you feel completely connected with a world far bigger than you can imagine - to see, hear, feel a community of thousands around you, chattering and singing, swooping and diving, making their home in a mile square of farmed forest.
I love the Valentines Day of cheesy cards, posh meals and hank panky, but it's not necessarily the same as that connection with people, with everything around you, even with birds. That sense of awe and belonging, of community and love, on a small or big scale, is the real Valentines - it's there in front of me but mostly I don't see it.
When we got back to Emma's house, Nikki pointed out the image on the stairs was not an unusual collection of biro marks on paper which I thought it had been, but a photo of a murmuration of starlings. Thanks Emma.