When the bluebirds sing

The Spreading Tree by Sir George Clausen (Wikimedia Commons)

The Spreading Tree by Sir George Clausen (Wikimedia Commons)

Author’s note:

Inspired by Sir George Clausen’s The Spreading Tree

While reading, please listen to Alexis Ffrench’s Bluebird

A dainty tea-length dress of embroidered cotton. A pair of polished black Mary Jane shoes. A hat with a burst of flora from the finest milliner. A pink parasol. 

Another day in the sun.

Well, inside the parlor for afternoon tea.

It was a fine day. Small puffs of white dotted the azure skies. Songbirds perched nearby, whistling a familiar tune. Even the flowers seemed to have bloomed brighter, larger. It would have been unfortunate if I had not taken advantage of such glorious weather. Far better than playing Debussy’s Petite Suite, En Bateau for a crowd of high-society ladies, sipping their Earl Grey with Chantilly lace gloves and conversing in hushed tones. They weren’t even listening. They didn’t care. In fact, they seemed more preoccupied on maintaining their perfect, cherry-red lips as they bit into a cucumber sandwich.

Once the last note resonated throughout the parlor, I took my bow. Yet rather than the sound of scattered applause, all I could register was the sound of birds calling out to me in a sweet tune. I abandoned my table of status, the painstakingly etched glassware, the uneaten clotted cream scones for the sky. Nothing mattered more than the glorious day ahead of me.

As I pushed past the double oak doors with a flourish, I felt the warmth of nature. Each blade of grass seemed unreal, the trees much too grand for their own worth. I ran away from the manor, my Mary Jane’s flying off from my feet and onto the stately pavement. 

I swept past the sculptures, the infinite fountains, the endless rose gardens. I fled past the gate and into the village. Down the cobblestone roads and through the shepherds field – a land that was no place for a lady like me. I ran till my feet were scabbed red and raw. But it didn’t matter. 

The sheep bleated and made way for me as I pounded up a hill to find a lone English Walnut. As I stood beneath the grand tree catching my breath, I stared up at the kaleidoscope of branches, leaves, and light. All was silent. It was just me and the English Walnut. However, I soon realized I wasn’t alone; a bluebird perched on a nearby branch, watching me. We stared at each other before it launched in a song. Another joined. Soon, a whole flock was singing sweetly to me. It felt hauntingly like my Petite Suite, En Bateau. But natural. Is of its place. It belonged in nature. 

I remembered the countless hours I’d spent practicing Debussy’s Clair de Lune, his Arabesque, and his Petite Suite, En Bateau. The toil and burden placed on me as I practiced under the watchful eye of Madame Toussaint. But here were the bluebirds, singing freely in harmony. Without practice, without judgement.

I sat under the walnut tree and gazed at the setting sun, sheltered by the tree’s leafy branches. From my spot, I could almost spot the ancient manor. The ladies streaming out with their parasols, their full stomachs, their pride. I watched far, far away. The magic and elegance of the afternoon seemed to have washed away as the ladies tucked themselves back into their mansions, their frocks stored away and their parasols back in the closet. 

But even when tea time was over and night settled around the valley, the bluebirds still sang for me.