1000m up in the Talamanca Mountains, in Costa Rica, is the Rancho Naturalista rain forest reserve. That afternoon we saw a violet-crowned fairy bathing on the wing. It was getting late, near dusk. The ‘grey leaves’ in the forest, ‘thick furred’ as Edith Sitwell puts it in her poem ‘Lullaby for Jumbo’, were dampening down the humid day. There was no sound, save for a trickling stream as it fell, rested in small pools, before falling, falling down the ravine.
Then a dazzling flash of bright violet-blue. And the stream hushed as a staccato, high-pitched chip announced the arrival of the forest’s avian jewel, ‘che tewink tewinck tewinck‘. Hovering over a small pool and sparkling bronzy-green, then violet-blue, this princely adorned wood nymph, weighing hardly more than a spoonful of sugar, dropped into the clear, pure water. Then almost immediately out again. Then back in. Shimmering with water droplets, spinning a blaze of crystals into the gloom of the forest, the bathing beauty shed its rivulets until, with a squeak of tinkling notes, it disappeared.
Somewhere, out on the edge, the grey-greenness became porous, a wild light embraced the heart and the forest gave a deep a sigh.