Michael Harding: Just after Christmas, I began talking to the birds

I imagined myself like Saint Francis, a halo of little birds around me in a cloud of love

 I accept that the birds don’t read my existence as significant. Photograph: Ashley Ezrachie/EyeEm

I accept that the birds don’t read my existence as significant. Photograph: Ashley Ezrachie/EyeEm

I think it was just after Christmas when I began talking to the birds. Leitrim was dry and frosty and I was able to stay in the garden for long periods. But I didn’t find it satisfying. The birds were too small.     

The hanging wire feeder attracted tits and finches, so I thought a relationship might be possible. I had seen a redwing beside a large stone one day, plucking things from the ground and from beneath the dead leaves, and of course the blackbirds hop all over the place throughout January; as if they were already considering a spring courtship. But I knew none of them could sustain a relationship with me because none of them depended on me for food.

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