Saturday, 28 May 2016

On hearing the first cuckoo

This morning I was awakened by the song [ is that the word?] of a cuckoo just outside my bedroom window. We used to hear them commonly in the surrounding woods but I did not hear one at all last year.

So I was delighted to hear his cry as he continued to fly around and I hope he finds a mate. As a child I chanted the rhyme

The cuckoo comes in April
And sings her song in May
In the middle of June
She changes her tune
And in July she flies away.

I suppose that then I did not know that it is the male who sings cuckoo while the female sings a bubbling song. But nevertheless we are in May, the sun was shining and the cuckoo was singing.

There are many songs and poems about cuckoos. Perhaps the oldest is the medieval "Summer is icumen in, Loudly sing cuckoo" while in 1912 Frederick Delius wrote On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, which is a tone poem based on  an old Norwegian folk song called ‘In Ola Valley’.

There are many traditions too about what to do when you hear your first cuckoo of the year. A friend told me today that  when you hear the first cuckoo you should turn any money in your pocket. This was new to me but on looking it up I found that he was right.

 In fact I read that it is very important that you have money in your pocket. On hearing the cuckoo you should then take the money, turn it over and spit on it and this ritual will bring you good fortune and riches in the forthcoming year. So now I know.

On the historical front I am working on a presentation entitled The Streets of Goole which I am giving to the Boothferry History group on June 13th. I am looking through my old pictures to find some of the less familiar streets and am aiming not to feature Aire Street, Boothferry Road and Pasture Road as I have so many pictures of these streets which I have shown previously.

A very early view of Boothferry Road, Goole

An early view of North St, Goole







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