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Category: journal notes (page 3 of 18)

Caught By A Rainbow

The days in December have been dark, and wet. We haven’t had the inconvenience of ice and snow, and for this our commuting selves are grateful, but the absence of sunlight, of any kind of light, can get to you after a while, and leave you staring at the sky, and at the hour by hour weather forecasts, hoping for a break in the clouds.

I grabbed an hour or so the other week when the forecast looked auspicious, or passable at least, that fitted with the daylight hours, and other work and domestic plans. I had an hour, a whole hour, to head up the nearest hill, camera in hand, and breathe for a while.

As I climbed, you could see the break in the weather that I was enjoying. Although I was bathed momentarily in strong winter sunlight, across the other side of the river, huge dark clouds were looming, rolling and filling the skies.

A rainbow followed, cutting through the sky, arching across what sometimes feels like the whole of central Scotland from way up here, stretching out in front of you. I stood, transfixed by the rainbow straight ahead.

I have no picture to show you – I couldn’t catch it.

It caught me.

As I stood and watched, transfixed, a bird of prey flew across and stopped, and hovered.

For a few moments the sky was full.

For a few moments the sky and the world and the time were full.

There was nothing but this: the land stretched out ahead, the sleet showers looming, the arc of the rainbow, the hovering wings of a bird of prey.

And then the light changed, and the rainbow faded.

The bird flew on.

And in the aftermath I said a quiet thank you for the intensity of this moment, reflecting, picture-less, that this, this, is why I take photographs.

wind biting down by the river sunlight on the wing tips of a gull

A Touch of Frost

The weather has been turning.

After weeks of gentle sunshine, autumn shook itself into winter with winds and rain.

Suddenly the trees are bare, silhouette gorgeous, and reminding me again how much I love the aesthetics of winter, if not the absence of light.

Yesterday we had a first scattering of snow, and the leaves and late flowers were touched at the edges with frost.

Out in the world, it’s hard not to feel like we’re in a winter season. Things can seem very dark.

It’s hard for any of us to make any sense of it. I don’t think there’s sense to be made of it.

It often feels discordant to keep focusing on beauty, on the soft loveliness of the world in the face of such harshness, such darkness, but also wrong to stop, and an affirmation of something important to keep saying otherwise.

The Edge of the Flowers

The early autumn here has been beautiful, weeks and weeks it feels like of dry sunny weather, and all the light we didn’t get in the summer. Warm too – last Sunday, the first of November, I was picnicking on the side of a hill in jeans and t-shirt!

I confess though, there’s something about the damp and misty days that draws me in, that lets you be in a different kind of way. Back down at the shore again in the middle of this week the other side had disappeared once more, and everything was drippy, damp.

There were only a couple of lone figures out, walking dogs or like me catching the sounds and patterns of the wading birds out on the mud flats, half there and half not as they drifted in and out of the mist.

There’s no pressure to do anything on a day like this at a place like this, not to enjoy, not to take photographs, not to be impressed or to impress, just be, half there and half not, like the birds.

Even with the dull light and the dampness there were still a few flowers dancing at the edge, and I couldn’t help but admire their torn and tearing softness, muted, like the tones of the day.

Season of Mists

It was a beautiful autumn-gold day when I left the house this morning. By the time I got down to the river, the world was cloaked in fog.

It wasn’t the walk that I’d planned and so much more lovely than that.

With no-one else about, all sounds muffled, the other side of the water swallowed up by the mist, only the cry of the birds for company –

Everything was still, everything was muted, everything was dreamy.

It was like walking for an hour in another world, as far from the busyness of ‘reality’ as you could be.

And for the umpteen hundredth time I found myself thinking: I will never find the words for this, the gorgeousness of the world; no photographs can ever do more than hint at its loveliness, and my thankfulness.

Sunlit Sunday

A path, through sunlight, through trees. Each and every time I stop and take a picture: it pulls me in, again and again, this quiet, irresistible invitation.

Only a few blue flowers remain, crinkling at the edges. In their place, an abundance of down, soft to the touch, ready to fly, to flee, to fall.

I wonder if there is a word for the gold light of a sunny September morning? Its softness, its thickness, the way it falls and touches, like a parent’s hand, like a kiss.

already turning
to seed
the dandelions
in my notebook
after this long silence

afraid again
I’m too old to learn
a jackdaw
dips his head
into the birdbath

wiping mildew
from my mother’s grave
I trace the date –
one white
and one green carnation

too weary
to ask for a sign
this feather
on the hillside
streaked with blue

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