Still here


To lean on this gate
is to meditate
upon millions of
comings and goings

cattle, sheep, squirrel
racing clouds, windswept
hedge and tree, farmer
headed home for tea

field, fells, road, sky and
the buzzard’s sharp cry
set in silence and
presence and absence

of grandfathers and
shepherds and horses
and scythes, caps and coats
old ploughs and voices

across the lichened
centuries and the
penuries, still here


Hallowing an interval

A certain minor light may still
Leap incandescent

Out of the kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then –
Thus hallowing an interval
Otherwise inconsequent

By bestowing largesse, honour,
One might say love.

Sylvia Plath
From Black Rook in Rainy Weather
The Collected Poems of Sylvia Plath, page 56

More snow today on already hard frozen depths. Everywhere looks stupendously beautiful – the Fells behind us and the Pennine range ahead of us. Still flooded fields are now the most picturesque ice-rinks imaginable. Maybe it’s just my imagination but flocks of sheep (whose tongues must be half frozen) look happier in snow than they did in recent driving rain.

Perhaps twenty-five or more garden sparrows have been making short work of seed, suet and fat-ball feeders today. Blackbirds – big consumers of porridge oats, clever things – seem to have been a bit bad-tempered with the sparrows, and the robins, who are usually pretty handy at taking care of themselves, have been watching them warily.

All of them are hungry – enough to pay little heed to the hopeful rooks who swoop in, comically intent on gaining foothold on perches designed for much smaller birds! It pleases us greatly to think that our regulars are daily stocking up with the energy resource they’ll need to get them through another snowy night.¬†From our kitchen chairs we watched them as the evening’s fading light appeared for a while to glow incandescent around their tiny, busy, dear little frames – thus hallowing an interval