This was reported in the 'Morning Post' on this day:
''A singular custom prevails in Shropshire at this period of the year, which is peculiar to that county. As soon as the first cuckoo has been heard, all the labouring classes leave work, if in the middle of the day, and time is devoted to mirth and jollity over what has been called the 'cuckoo ale'.''
Cuckoo-ale: Ale drunk out of doors to welcome the cuckoo's return.
(James Halliwell's 'Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words').
It was believed that the weather would change as soon as the cuckoo appeared and it was, therefore, considered to be the embodiment of Spring.
I miss the sound of the cuckoo. It has been a few years since it was heard in the Greenwood. I often hear a wood pigeon and listen carefully to hear it call again just in case it was a cuckoo but it never is. There is something magical about that sound, something that is so very much a part of the season, something that binds us to the land when we hear it. I hope that maybe next year it will return again.