I have seen three kingfishers in my life so far. The first time was one autumn day when I was twenty and visiting my first ever RSPB bird sanctuary in Ynys Hir in Mid Wales. I just caught a flash of turquoise. My next sighting was on another autumn day fifteen years later on an artificial lake in Chingford. Again it was just a fleeting glimpse. On Sunday at Minismere nature reserve in Suffolk just as I was leaving a hide I turned and looked through the window behind me. A kingfisher rose up from the reeds and hovered above the surface of the pond. It was an intense three seconds as my heart stopped and my mind’s eye worked overtime desperately trying to preserve the image. Why did my halcyon moments mean so much to me?
In Greek mythology Alcyone was the daughter of Aeolus the guardian of the winds. When her beloved husband, Ceyx was drowned she threw herself into the sea and was turned into a kingfisher. When she builds her nest at sea Aeolus stills the wind for seven days to keep the next generation of his family safe.
Another legend says that the kingfisher buries her dead mate in the winter before laying her eggs in a nest of fish bones which then floats out to sea. This image makes me remember the pagan myths about the moon goddess carrying the body of the dead king, symbolic of the old year, to his final resting place. Then I find myself in the realm of the Fisher King. The wounded king who is waiting for a knight to return and bring the secret that will heal himself and bring life to his desolated kingdom.
As I write this post I realise that the kingfisher and the stories that surround it have helped me to clarify what is driving my passion to write at the moment. I now understand what the theme is that I am trying to capture and keep. It is hard to put into bare words. It needs a calm sea, a still wind and a story to express it