north light

Year: 2010 (page 1 of 2)

Snow Walking: Christmas Wishes

Snow walking
River tumbling
Half moon watching
Robin calling
Trees posing
Cheeks flushing
Eyes glinting
Smiles bursting
Laughter ringing
Feet slipping
Arms catching
Love dancing
Heart melting
Evening falling
Christmas nearing
Peace descending
Simply living
Snow walking

I wrote this poem last Christmas Eve.  I’d been walking in the snow with two people I love dearly.  The feeling was one of deep peacefulness, and I’m glad I wrote a poem about it.

Later that afternoon my mother slipped away, quietly, peacefully.

I’m glad I have the poem from that afternoon.

Wishing you all much love and peace this Christmas time x

Dancing Lessons

Look, she said, at the colours that flash as I turn,

Reds, auburns, russets, golds

Breathe, she said, breathe the air that stops as I pass,

Soft, hushed, calm, electric

Listen, she said, to the music that follows my moves,

Songs, whistles, drums of the forest

Smell, she said, smell my perfume as I sway,

Still turning heads and breaking hearts

Feel, she said, feel the strength of my feet

Solid, rooted, grounded

Watch, she said, watch the swirl of my skirt

Watch it fold, and dance, and twirl,

As I scatter confetti

As I move in the forest

As I dance to the birdsong

As I breathe out my perfume

As I stand here sure-footed

In my full female power

Watch, she said

As I swing through the seasons

As I dance through the decades

Learn, she said

As I shake my leaves

As I twirl my skirt

As I show you just how to dance.

Walled Garden

Walled garden warmth, the buzz of bees and
Cupboards of gooseberry bushes,
A garden the way his father showed him.

The dance of cabbage butterflies and I am home,
Back,
I am high above the railway line, high above
All the topping and tailing, the old greenhouse,
With blackberries on the fence above the railway.
No single pane of glass but grapes that grew,
Whitecurrants, redcurrants, loganberries, it was
like peas in rows, sweetly climbing
Producing thick and heavy that summer
Letting us make the berry rich kingdom of Fife in south London.

Pods with the sweetest fruit that I’d collect,
Wine, fermenting for weeks,
A suburban garden, my father working, and
In the kitchen, my mother, shelling peas.

~~~

For an audio version of this poem, please click the arrow below.

Flower, Dancing by the Waterfall

You do not need to know the name of a flower to enjoy it and to notice it.

That’s not to say I don’t try to learn more about the flowers: I do, and I enjoy learning more about them, looking up reference books, trying to find the right name, understanding a bit more about their meaning and symbolism and use in days gone by, wondering if I can find a Gaelic name to add a bit of poetry too.

But I can’t always manage it. I often can’t manage it.

I look up what I’ve seen (and captured, often, close up with a macro) and still come away scratching my head, unsure as to what the name might be.

As time goes by the more I think it doesn’t matter, not for this purpose anyway, this noticing, this appreciation, this wondering.

Perhaps the desire to name and to label can even get in the way, a barrier to simply seeing what we see.

The precision of naming takes away from the uniqueness of seeing ~ Pierre Bonnard

I did not need to know what this flower’s name was to notice her, to bend down and try and capture her, even as she danced, furiously in the wind and the spray of the waterfalls behind.

You do not need to know why the moment matters to me, why the place matters, why the falls are special, or even what the flower said.

I think perhaps it is enough for me to label this in my mind, in my heart, in my flickr stream: flower, dancing by the waterfall.

The Joy, and Frustration, and Joy, of Taking Flower Photographs

I step outside the door.

Flowers jump out at me.

Good morning! Good morning! they cry.

I’m pretty sure this is code for ‘take my photo, pretty please’, so I stop, and oblige.

As I stop to take a photograph I try not to stop at taking a photograph.

I also admire them, encourage them, compliment them.

The flowers smile, broadly, in response.

I walk along the road, by the hedgerows of all delight.

The road sides are dotted with splashes of white, and it makes me glad to be seeing these flowers for the second time.

It makes me glad that I’ve got to know their name, and something about them, and to have written of how proud you’d be to walk with this flower in your buttonhole.

I bend down, pay attention, take some photographs.

It’s not so easy with these tiny flowers.  They move, bend, flutter and dance in the wind. It’s delightful, but hard to get the focus.

They shine, bright, white, in the sunshine, and the sunshine makes it hard to get the contrast right. (Cloudy days and rainy days are often better. But then, the flowers do so love to sunbathe.)

Later, I look at the photographs on my laptop, and start to edit.

This part too is full of delight, noticing a pattern I hadn’t seen before, discovering a point of detail that is simply: astonishing, and wonderful.

Still, this is also the time where the difficult and more challenging parts of the creative process come into play.

Doubts and frustrations swing by. A whole series of  impossible I wish desires run through my head.

I wish I knew how to create other-worldly flower portraits.

I wish I knew how to create an impressionistic effect.

I wish I had a better camera.

I wish I could paint.

I wish I knew more about the flowers, their names, their mythology, their symbolism.

I wish I could find a way to take a flower photograph that was good enough, match enough, representation enough of the flowers that dance with me, and delight me in the hedgerows.

And of course, I cannot.

Accepting this is part of the creative process.

(Yes, I know, it’s part of life.)

Accepting this requires me to think about why I take, and share, flower photographs.

I share them not to appear, to be thought of, to be spoken of, or to be: an artist, a photographer, or an ‘authority’ on flowers.

I simply want to try and share something of their gorgeousness, the way they dance and move in the wind, how they jump out from the hedgerows and show off in the sunshine.

I want to share this simple, everyday reminder that the earth is beautiful, and you are loved.

(I am not sure if this ambition is smaller, or bigger, than the others 😉 )

And I want to take photographs, myself, just for me, over and over again: because it’s the best way I’ve yet found to get to know the flowers, to communicate with the natural world, to feel close to home, connected, co-creating, delighting, loving, laughing.

The wishes I wish for are only about the way you might (if you wanted, and I’m not sure I do) create ‘products’ from the photographs.

They have nothing to do with the wishes I have for my relationship with the flowers, which is within my own hands, own heart, own eyes each and every time I step out of the door.

Creative doubt has never, ever, come close to diminishing my delight in the taking of the photographs, the moments of absorption, of noticing, of talking and connecting, of watching and laughing, of falling over, of getting stung, of getting mud soaked, and I trust it never will.

That relationship, that connection, that admiration and honouring are the only things that matter.

Whether or not the picture’s any ‘good’ is really neither here nor there. This is what I need to keep on learning as I learn to take imperfect photographs.

I step back outside the door.

The sun is shining.
close up of a daisy in strong sunlight

The flowers jump out at me, all smiles, all delight, and ready to pose once more.

Waltzing Ferries

colour flashes through the lightness of the morning.

cars waltz on the decks of the ferry

drifting back across the water

drifting softly to the mainland

while the waters of the holy

and the mist gently draping

and the calm perfect stillness

as the highlands say goodbye

and colour flashes

through the lightness of the morning

while cars waltz

on the redness of the ferry

and drifting softly to the mainland

drifting back across the water

the boat nears the shore.

The Fire of All Connection

Connected to spirit through landscape

Irresistible invitation to say yes

The soft wind of blessed love and melancholy sweetness

The fire of all connection

Irresistible invitation to say yes

Back to the source in the earth

The fire of all connection

This is my rich seam

Back to the source in the earth

The soft wind of blessed love and melancholy sweetness

This is my rich seam

Connected to spirit through landscape.

Flower Photography, and Living in the World

I am lucky enough to have a poet-photographer as one of my friends.

She told me one day about the macro function on my camera (‘do you have a button with a flower picture next to it…? Yes, that’s it…’)

[No, I really didn’t know, and don’t tend to read instructions.]

More importantly, she encouraged me to take and share less ordinary photographs.

Photographs that capture the extraordinariness of everyday things. With her encouragement, I started taking photographs of the wild flowers that I saw as I walked.  (I love to walk).

Such a simple sentence:

I started taking photographs of the wild flowers that I saw as I walked

The words can’t do justice to what really happened, changing the way that I see things for ever. Because as I walked, and took photos, I learned to:

  • Notice beauty and wonder all around me
  • Find evidence of life and growth in the most unlikely of places
  • Stumble across the tiniest of flowers, previously hidden from my view
  • Bend down, hunker down, lie down in order to notice them properly
  • Pay attention to detail
  • Listen to what the flowers had to say (yes, they do talk)
  • Celebrate colour
  • See patterns
  • Say thank you
  • Wash my eyes in wonder

If I had to try and sum it up, I’d say it was the art of paying attention.

It’s how I want to walk, from here on, through the world.

Drinking in detail, patterns, colour, wonder, thank you.

Eyes washed in wonder.*

~~~

The phrase: ‘Eyes washed in wonder’ flows from a prescription for poetry I’ve been taking for the last few years.  It is one of the lines in the Poet’s Prescription by Diana Hendry.

The Look of Exuberance

Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance

~ Mary Oliver

I found this quote during the week: happy co-incidence – it fitted so perfectly with a word that has been playing on my own lips as I walk by and notice the unruly, outrageous wildness of the hedgerows in this harvest season.

Exuberance is really the only word for it. Yes: exuberance

an overflowing amount; an outburst; an abundance
Used to describe an exuberance of content of fancy, of foliage, of happiness, of imagination.

Yes: the word is perfect.

And although sometimes I find it hard to capture the look of abundance in the hedgerows, there is something about this time of year that draws your eye in to the detail, to the specificity of the plants, ripening, and the season, turning. It’s a mixture of colour, thickening

Sloe Berries

nuts, swelling

Acorns Forming

fruit, sweetening

seeds, floating

plants, delighting, in their own perfect form.

Seeds

Truly an exuberance of the imagination.

12 Line Thank You: A Monday Morning Poem

She was rushing busy busy

When she tripped on the reflection

Stopped by beauty

Stunned by wonder

When she fell into the time warp

Timeless beauty

Endless wonder

When she heard the monk-voice whisper

‘Write them beauty

Sing them wonder’

And she stopped to write a poem

Twelve line thank you, ode to wonder.

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