I guess all of us daydream about food. I’m still working on losing some of the pounds that girded themselves about my waist over the Christmas period – so perhaps my culinary reveries have been sharpened a tad.
One of the ingredients that will combine with those in this photo is presently browning in the pan. I know what outcome I’m dreaming of, and thinking particularly of a world renowned city where I once revelled in the most enormous dish of it. What does this photo call to mind for you? And where?
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Riotous birdsong this morning and – though I’m almost certainly kidding myself – a sense that Spring is not far away. Snow along the Pennine ridge is a feature of Spring up here – and somehow looks lovelier than usual when viewed from a landscape strewn with daffodils. Not many of those around yet, though there are a few hardy yellow souls numbered among our garden snowdrops.
I’ve been wondering today how a heron I’ve been watching for a few days can stand for so long in a freezing cold river. (And rehearsing chunks of Mary Oliver’s Upstream in my head). This most watchful and patient of fishermen must have thermally protected legs and feet. I’m minded to look up how that could be. Plodding along, close to home, I was startled and delighted by a deer just feet away. Or perhaps I ought to say that the unsuspecting deer was startled by me! Too quick for a photo today, I shall keep a closer watch for them in future.
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Well, I wasn’t wrong about the snow and ice. We knew it immediately on waking – as what little road traffic passes here at that time in the morning was making its way much more gingerly than usual, tyres crunching instead of swishing. Black ice on the roads and footpaths is lethal. The planned feet-resting-day looked set to be confirmed, of necessity.
But UK weather is nothing if not unpredictable. As the day lightened and brightened, the roads, at least, began to thaw, and the kind of golden light that brings photographers here from all over the world began to paint the landscape again. By early evening I walked with my coat opened, almost too warm, the Pennine ridge in the distance clearly deep-snow covered whilst the near landscape luxuriated in ever-changing colours of day. All this AND hot coffee and lasagne after sunset. ‘Twas a good day.
If I’m not much mistaken there’s some snow and ice in the air tonight. The chill has made it past my several layers, coffee and hearth are calling, and after my shoulder’s recent altercation with cunningly disguised black ice – vertical one second, discouragingly and painfully horizontal the next – I think there’ll be a bit more time spent indoors upon the morrow. Look at those clouds just above the trees …
Some days I think twice about lugging one of my much loved but heavy cameras along on a walk. Most days the camera wins. Some days the photographic results are not especially inspiring, and I wonder for a second time! But today I was glad to have the big Nikon with me. There seemed to be every size and cloud-type aloft, tempering and lending many shades of nuance to the fundamentally deep blue of the dome above them. And on days like this, cheeks burning, eyes watering, fingers stiff with cold, the sight of mighty Blencathra in majesty never fails to move me. Every day this mountain sports a new coat – but day or night, hot or cold, light or dark, the sheer magnificence and permanence is an abiding delight – and comfort.
A lovely day today, though sharp and cold for our walk, with one of my utterly inspirational artist friends. Never short of good conversation, we almost trip each other up when we’ve not met for a while. Poems and ideas and visions of this and that, ten to the dozen!
Tonight I’m especially grateful for one of a host of book recommendations we’ve shared over the years. Lovers of poetry, it’s always a joy to encounter someone / anyone who ‘believes in poetry’ too. So hat-tip to Kindle who allow me to get cracking on a new work immediately. And huge thanks to Stephen.
a poem … is an arena of checks and balances, of starts and stops and realignments. It is a ground where questions are more important than answers and answers do not necessarily negate each other. It is also a territory where there may be no “answer,” at least in the way we usually understand that word. There may be, purely, a freshly discovered space for observation.
What Poetry Brings to Business
May it be, then, in these days, that we all set aside a little more time for poetry!
It’s not just photographs that can inspire and encourage. Graphic designers are engaged in the art of encouragement too. I love the reminder that this illustration offers. When I’d finished reading – thankful for that which awakens … informs … unites … challenges etc. – I found myself naturally moving on to enumerate a host of other areas in my life for which I have cause to be profoundly grateful. It’s a life-enhancing exercise. Reflection on causes for thanksgiving evokes further reasons for gratitude!
I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – but it’s to be found anytime and anywhere. I’m inspired by everyday reality – at home and outdoors, of course, but also by photographs, hundreds and thousands of them, many of which I’ve made myself, countless more the work of others. And more often than not it’s images of the most ordinary things I delight in most. Images that evoke sound and sight and scent and touch and taste, or just catch the light in a certain way, or bring back a memory – maybe of last week, or of decades ago.
The world is full of little icons to art, creativity and design. Study the coffee machine next time you’re out and about. Or you may be lucky enough to catch sight of an old locomotive crossing a viaduct in full steam. All around us, every hour of every day, there are causes for wonderment and surprise. A book, a photo magazine, the crackling fire in the hearth, knitting needles, kingfishers and woodpeckers, human language and love, the animal world, flora and fauna. Pete Seeger, long ago, bewailed Little Boxes. But we can choose to live more fully among little icons. Everywhere and anywhere.
Sometimes, even in meditation, I feel I’m in a hurry! I’m glad, of course, that life is so full – of people, and poetry, and new every morning beauty, and the hundred thousand little things that make up our days and weeks and months and years. Glad that time doesn’t drag. And yet, I need to slow down if I’m to be fully awake, alive and aware. I need to slow down enough to notice.
So I slowed my stride this morning. Awakened by bracing cold morning air, I was enthralled by the unique formation of ice crystals on a field gate. Alive, I marvelled at the wonder of it and tasted a few flakes on my tongue. Aware, and stock still, I saw the woodpecker a fraction of a second before I heard the knocking, loud enough to fill the forest and maintain my slower pace homeward.
Everyone’s been smiling in and around our village today – something that is always noticeable when the day got off to a start like this one did. The glorious commixture of acres of frosted green, the steaming breath of humans and animals alike, deep blue sky and finger-pinching cold is something simply – well – magical!
For friends who really like lots of photos, here’s an album slideshowof my morning’s ambling.
I’ve watched televised US Inauguration Ceremonies since that of Richard Nixon – in rabbit-aerial-snowed black and white. Today’s was beamed faultlessly to my desk by way of Apple’s miraculous iMac. I wish all possible good for the United States of America, and our dear friends who are citizens of that great nation.
The deepest impression made upon me (and doubtless others, the world over) has been the marvellous dignity we witnessed in former President Barack Obama, his First Lady, and each of their predecessors graciously present (or having sent written apology for enforced absence) at the ceremony today. That kind of transfer, dignified transfer, wherever it happens in the world, is worthy of note and appreciation.
Leadership is a costly and demanding business for all who undertake it. May dignity prevail – everywhere – first.
A treasure found between
promise and memory,
a bracketed beauty, the searched-for house
revealed itself – pretty, gabled, white,
a farmhouse once, perhaps no longer –
perched above clean-swept yard,
a low wall setting the house apart
All I knew was of a man who lived here once,
nearly two hundred years ago;
his son, who left, but in the end
came home to die.
Then and now, sheltering trees behind,
light screen of more across the road. Beyond,
gentle mile upon mile of wooded valley,
gold hills, blue hills, undulating
into far distance.
On the way,
by the winding road, a woman
had come to her gate, directing me
with the zest and drama of someone
sociable, living in isolation, for whom
a stranger’s query was a happening.
The house began to live.
And after, remembering it, remembering
the beauty of those great benign
solitudes, filtered through drooping boughs,
I felt the discovery of this place was not
simply enclosed by the journey there
and then the thinking back, but mingled
with all of that, in a blurring of time
and feeling – joined with more, too.
There seemed no gulf
between the falling in love, so suddenly,
with this discovered place, and any human love;
for each embraced the other, each was now
more deeply felt for this conjunction.
Into the same
mystery, their roads ran on.
Sometimes Ruth Bidgood’s poems present life’s ‘treasure found’ in the most exquisitely tender way. Tonight I (and perhaps you?) shall doubtless ponder what changes might be brought to bear in any person’s life when and if they’re able to look at anything, anywhere, with such an acute and loving eye. What sight of treasures – pretty, gabled, undulating, winding, directing, filtered, discovered, embracing – might touch us, and change us, for the better, forever?
Largely indoors as a friend visited today, so my wanderings didn’t get underway until after dark. But there was a certain charm in it.
The iPhone in my pocket not only captured this image but apparently had miraculous and informative chats with my Fitbit wrist tracker, cheered me along with favourite songs (Andy Williams’ Born Free is great when you’re chugging uphill!), kept a check on heartbeat, pace and coverage, (am I dead or anything? – let me just check: no, says not, thankfully, but my flat feet hurt!).
Clever though it be, the iPhone didn’t quite capture the peace all-around as flocks of sheep, chewing still, as though someone had given them each a pack of Wrigleys, finally lay down. Some inner clock had told them ‘it’s time to rebuild your strength.’ My inner clock told me it was time for supper, even having had a sizeable lunch …