north light

Month: October 2012


It’s nearly dark already.

The clocks changed at the weekend, and I realise with not a little heaviness in my heart that I won’t be able to take photos on my drive home from work, not for months. It will be dark.

But tonight there is a brief reprieve.

I have to leave early to get to the vets, and at 4.40pm there is still light in the sky.

In fact the sky is burning with light, red, burnished, and when I catch a glimpse from out the office window I gasp and race to get away in time for this last splash of colour, this last burst of light.

And right enough there is a spot, there’s a gap up on the hill only five minutes from work and the light’s not yet faded. The red has gone but the sky is still streaked, wild, and although I don’t have long what with the need to get home and dash out to the vets, with the time ticking by and the light sudden falling, I have to stop.

Get out of the car and watch, notice, breathe it, witness, watch, notice, breathe it.

And I can’t help thinking:

Were this my last day.

This is what I too would do.

Head out in search of the light. Stop by the roadside, by the edge of an earth brown field.

Nothing special, just gates and mud and trees and field with the skies huge above, streaked and splattered with light.

And then I would tell you.

I would paint you a picture.

I would write you a poem.

I would streak the skies wild with a last gasp of light.

Once in a Blue Moon

Tonight is a blue moon. It feels like a red letter day – something to notice and remember, this second full moon in a month.

I can’t recall clocking the blue moon days before the last one – it was just an expression, wasn’t it?

Something people said. Continue reading

Last night I saw an owl.

I was driving home from singing practice, and we were running late, it was well past dark o’clock by the time I drove home, in fact with the nights drawing in it was almost dark when I *got* to the choir, never mind driving home again,

and it was the third time I’d been into town that day, back and for’ard, back and for’ard, and there are times when living in the countryside seems less than totally rational, less than totally sensible, what with the price of petrol and the need to drive back and forth, the rain that comes sheeting down day after day, and the mud and the puddles on the road and the need to fling yourself ditchward when folk drive too fast, not used to or not caring for the single track nature of these single track roads,

and then I saw an owl.

I was nearing the church in the hollow by the hill, and there was something on the wall of the manse.

An object I thought, an ornament maybe, but on nearing I could see it:

no still object, no mere ornament

this was an owl, still, and tawny, turning its eyes on me, turning its force towards me and I could feel the shock of electricity charge through my bones, the shock of the seeing, the jolt of the wildness, the sudden sharp moment of the seeing of the wildness of the night.

Still. Watchful. Hunting.


I drove the last few minutes silent, humbled, awestruck, electrified.

By the time I reached home the rain had moved over, stars dancing brilliant in the sky.

These few brief moments, from the wall of the manse to the door of the stars.

All woes forgotten, all petrol prices driving ditches reason ration swallowed by the star brilliance.

All thrown back into wildness of the night hunting, watchful, silent, still.

Last night I saw an owl.

no longer knowing

no longer knowing
what it means to pray


i step outside
hold the words of Mary Oliver

on earth as it is

just pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate

watch the yellow flower
glowing quiet in the garden gold
even as she’s tearing


all faded

shape revealed through tattered loving grace –

deliver us

The sky is big this morning. There’s a point in the road where the landscape opens up and the sky becomes vast – it feels like you’re in the middle of a painting, by someone Dutch, or German, I can’t remember who but the sense of recognition sparks at the back of my mind – and the sky is wild this morning, clouds scudding over as the storm brushes past, mad streaks of colour that hint at winter coming, the fields all earth and brown and flooded silver where the river spilled its banks.

I want to tip my head back and drink in the vastness of this sky, its bigness, its streaks, its clouds rushing madly over.

There is nothing mellow about this autumn morning. It is vast and scudding, wildly changeable, streaked with the winds of the falling of this fall. It is energising, liberating, captivating. It is the earth: madly, wildly alive, and I too want to feel this energy, to drink up its madness, to be vast and big and madly, wildly alive.

Underwater Autumn

Photography helps you to shift perspective, to see things you wouldn’t have noticed before, to notice things about the world that previously would have passed you by.

Looking through water – a puddle, a reflection, the still waters of a river – can show you things in a different light:

The first hints of the colours, changing

An impressionist painting

Trees pointing skyward, catching my eye in the water as I bent down to watch a leaf. The way the water stretches at the edges of the stone is fascinating to me – I’m sure there’s a physics lesson in there somewhere!

An early leaf, fallen in a pool of the Old Water

The promise of the reds, yellows, oranges to come, the water of the stream, bending round the corners of the leaf.

However many times you think you’ve seen a season.

However many times you think you’ve walked a walk.

There is always something new to see.

Always, always, always.

Silent Singing Morning

six twenty am.

barest hint of daybreak in the sky above the chimneys

and the morning’s cold with autumn early.

shapes of darkness flutter

by the silhouetted treelines

as bats claim the last of the

moments of the night.

the birds are singing.

standing in the dark to watch the

breaking of the morning

standing in the dawn

to fill your self with silence

the birds are singing loud

filling air with song of morning

filling ears with song of silence

filling soul with twilight blue

of the flutter of the breaking

of the silent-singing morning.

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