Sunday, September 16, 2012

The North Wind Doth Blow

Actually the wind is coming from the South as we live in the Southern Hemisphere and its cold and wet with snow falling in the lower parts of the South Island. Our weather here in New Zealand is the opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere. 

However at winter time when I watch the weather and hear of the cold southerlies approaching this rhyme always comes to mind.

The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then, poor thing?
He'll sit in a barn and keep himself warm
and hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

This nursery rhyme is referred to as either the North Wind doth blow or The Robin.  'The North Wind doth blow' is British in its origins and believed to have originated in the 16th century history. The purpose of the words to this poem is to ensure that a child associates security with home whilst empathising with the plight of the robin.

A child will be thinking of the ‘telling’ signs that when it’s cold and wet with the wind coming from the North, it may well bring snow. But a secure child would know they would be safe and warm in their home as the wood supply will have been bought in over summer for the cold winter. They would also know that there are 'winter' and 'summer' cloths but does a bird change its feathers? 

The poor Robin, who may well have flitted around in their garden would appear to have nowhere to go, especially as a lot of birds will have already migrated south for the winter. Because the Robin appears to be quite tame and having made almost a friend in the Robin, a child would be perplexed at its plight. This therefore accounts for the confusion as to whether the poem should be called 'The North Wind doth blow' or the Robin.

Well known to British and Irish gardeners, the Robin is relatively unafraid of people and likes to come close when anyone is digging the soil, in order to look out for earthworms and other food freshly turned up. Indeed, the robin is considered to be a gardener's friend and for various folklore reasons the robin would never be harmed. 

Most birds use the old "wing tuck" method. Actually, birds don't tuck their heads under their wing. Instead they rest their heads on their backs while they nuzzle their beaks into their back feathers. Sleeping with their head tucked on their back allows birds to rest their neck muscles and also makes for better heat conservation.

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