It was 4am when the sun tilted over the brim of the hill into Hidden Valley in Worcestershire. First the larks, then wrens, dunnocks, blackbirds, goldfinches joined in a jubilant and ear-splitting dawn chorus. The families in the six tents stirred. Some lay listening in wonder. Others rolled over to grab the tail end of sleep before it departed entirely.
The birds and the humans were doing the same thing - forming community. Speaking for the people, some of us met thirty-five years ago at university. Others are partners or children who came along a little later. Communication nowadays is often online, but every so often, Annabel shoos us out of the ether and into tents.
We shared adventures in a way you just can’t on FaceBook. We learned to cook over an open fire. We invaded the local pub. We followed Dave tramping across fields and challenging the owners of luxury homes who had blocked rights of way. And when the heavens opened, we all sardined into Nick and Jackie’s tent.
Then, at the end of the weekend, it was time to strike camp, and our little village melted away. As we rise for work tomorrow, we shall remember the larks soaring in song and waking all the many other birds. They will sing to the Hidden Valley where only flattened rectangles of grass show we were once a community there.