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Year: 2011 (page 1 of 4)

A Year of Flowers

There are so many ways you can look back on the year that’s just drawing to an end.

When I stopped to think about the things that had stuck in my mind (my heart) this year, I kept coming back to flowers.

There is something about the feeling of wonder, love, connection and connectedness that I get from taking flower photos learning how to do flower portraits.

Each one: each place, each flower, each moment is etched in my mind (my heart).

Moments of:

  • finding the flower (or letting the flower find you)
  • bending down and trying to notice, pay attention
  • smiling as the flower responds
  • getting wet, stung, scratched, stuck
  • enjoying a brilliant moment of wonder
  • hearing the start of a poem, the whispers of a song line that emerges in response
  • recognising the flush of emotion: grateful, and humble
  • feeling simply, wildly: alive

There are so many things that get lost in the flash of time, passing.

I am glad that flowers are not one of them.

A Year in Flowers

The collage is of flowers found over the last twelve months.

Midwinter Skies

The world is so dark

so grey, so gloomy.

Is it possible to write

of beauty, love,

magic, alchemy,

enchantment,

rich, orange,

golden, glowing,

true?

In response,

you paint me skies of midwinter:

soft peachy apricots

a palette of moonlight blues

red gold burning on the galloway skyline

pinks, purples, mauves exploding in a

fever by my door.

You scratch words with barebone branches

‘gainst the canvas of midwinter

asking softly, irresistible:

is it possible not to?

Meanwhile the Wood

I ask question after unanswerable question as I walk.

Old familiar patterns of dead end quests for meaning, patterns, answers, purpose.

The search for a singular purpose

… is it secular or sacred, is it written or is it read, is it big meaning small meaning, is it my work is it teaching, is it worthwhile is it worthless,  is it images or words, is it poetry or prose, is it possible to get a sign just a hint of an answer.

Meanwhile the wood throws up image after image

of beauty, wonder, magic,

beyond the reduction of my questions,

a celebration of both,

beyond either and or,

a painting of darkness and light.

Looking in Advent

I have been thinking a fair bit about Advent over the last few weeks.

I used to love Advent as a child. Now I find myself growing increasingly grumpy and cynical in anticipation of the Christmas season, muttering about commercialisation and consumerism and pointless consumption of too much food, drink and stuff.

Without small children around, Christmas loses a lot of its natural magic.

Plus Christmas Eve is the anniversary of my mum’s death, and I know that has shifted and changed my sense of anticipation or looking forward to this time of year, although not necessarily in a negative way (it was a day of exceptional cold, winter sunshine and extraordinary peacefulness that I’m still wonder-ing about)

I wanted to find a way of recreating or maybe creating anew some enjoyment and appreciation of this December period, rather than dwelling in grumpiness and muttering at the TV (enjoyable though that can be, in its own way). I thought about some of the things I used to enjoy about advent – all intrinsically wrapped up with memories of my mum.

One was Christmas baking – huge batches of mince pies made from scratch, right down to the making of the mincemeat some years.

One was the lighting of the advent candle, arguing about whose turn it was, and enjoyment of the simple ritual of counting the days down as we watched the flame.

The other was opening the windows of the advent calendar. There were no gifts inside, no presents, no sweeties, no chocolates. There was no ‘point’ to the opening, beyond the revelation of an image and a heightening of the sense of anticipation.

Remembering this got me thinking about the value of daily practice.

Simple things like writing, taking photos, blogging or keeping a journal can help you to notice the passing of a particular, numbered day.

It’s a way of shifting perspective, of opening window after window, image after image, that reflect an aspect, an angle of a bigger story even if the whole is never fully revealed, even if it is only ever hinted at in fragments, in pieces, one window at a time.

And it made me think about the windows I look through nowadays, and could make still more of:

Feet made for walking, eyes for seeing, heart for watching softly, camera to help me capture, trees to invite me to notice, over and over and over:

Avenue of Bare Bones

A veritable feast of noticing, a festival of wonder.

I think my advent practice for the next few weeks will be about noticing, and allowing myself to enjoy the gifts of the winter season, freely offered, in every street, in every park, on the line of every horizon.

It’s the end of the day, too late for a stone.

I wheel the bin out, ready for the morning. The night is cold, bitter cold, and I’m careful not to slip. Still, something catches my eye and I tip my head back. Look up. A carpet of stars. The firmament.

Between the trees, the crescent moon, glowing silver white. It takes my breath away. This late, small stone. This firmament.

Saying Yes to November

yes to the bare bone branches of a cold November morning

yes to the sun just creeping o’er the hill

yes to the pale blue pastels of the sun streaked daybreak

yes to the clouds looming with the promise of the snow

yes to mud in the fields and mud in the boots and mud at the foot of all my clothesyes to the tips of my fingers going numb
yes to driving with gloves on

yes to drinking soup for a heat at lunchtime

yes to the robin waiting hungry by the door

yes to the blackbird crashing noisy in the undergrowth

yes to the berries glowing darkly in the hedgerows

yes to poppy blood remembrance on the days of aching cold

yes to the fog of impossible to see

yes to the call of the geese heading south

yes to the patterns on the nettles on the first full frost of winter

yes to the nights drawing in

yes to the wheel ever turning

yes to harsh cold winter implacably approaching

yes to the sun setting on the fields of Galloway and the sky lit up with gold

yes to mist softly draped round the church in the hollow

yes to the last patch of gold as the oak points skyward

yes to the grace of the trees stripped bare

yes to crows cawing in the silhouette of branches

yes to gothic imagination in the mist filled skies

yes to finger numbing bone aching cold of the mornings

yes to the days that swallow autumn

yes to the gold grey cold grey skies of

November

Why We Need Poetry

I don’t know if it’s because poetry is the language of rebels, artists and mavericks,

confounding expectations, breaking rules and saying this, this is how things might be

or maybe that at times of the deepest emotion, we turn as if by instinct,

back to poetry

Of course perhaps it’s the invitation to play, to dance, to make words sing or

simply that we need to express a deeper truth

Perhaps it’s because we understand that poems are born from the words of the heart

or maybe, as one who’s found this,

that once you get started you can make your own rules

And yet I know it’s not form, it’s that some things are too beautiful,

or too terrible,

not to be spoken in verse

Which means I believe to my core that

however much some poems baffle us,

others can reach us at the most human, most universal level

and that we are human, and long to say:

this, this is how it was for me.

and we will keep exploring and experimenting with ways to say it, share it, make you feel it too

Or maybe it’s simply that poetry has a pulse.

and sometimes we need reminders of how it feels to be alive.

Photography, Gratitude, and Fields of Blue and Green

The weather has been wild recently, with gales and torrential rain.

It’s also been really dark; I know this goes with the territory at this time of year, but the (blessed) absence of snow and ice so far has meant less of the bright light and sunshine-on-snow that I’ve enjoyed over the last two winters.

And less opportunity to take winter wonderland photographs. Continue reading

Grounded in Puddle Trees

Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed by all the things I do not know, and cannot understand.

Sometimes I feel as though I might fall into a vortex of not knowing, drown in an ocean of not understanding.

This is one of the reasons I love to look in puddles. Continue reading

Late Autumn Galloway Photo Walk

I was uploading some photos to Flickr the other day and realised I had a set which captured quite nicely the mood and feel of my favourite local walk (a circuit from the front door, by the edge of the river, to a waterfall, back along by the hedgerows).
I thought you might enjoy a peek into this beautiful corner of the world in the late autumn – when the oaks are still golden, just before the leaves really start to fall. Continue reading

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