Sea pilgrims

Here we are,

the sea pilgrims.

The wanderers,

the seekers,

the beachcombers,

the sunset-catchers.

Not many of us tonight.

A damp evening,

dark before its time.

Thunder rumbles in the distance,

water mirrors grey

and turns it into silver,

alchemy before our eyes.

An infinite supply of treasure

for a sea pilgrim.

We leave the shore,

turn inland,

the light darkens,

sky lowers,

but inside us the sea shines silver,

and fills our hearts with light.

Starbathing

A glimpse, from the window, of stars.

The great bear, or saucepan,

Tracing a line to the north.

After that, I had to go out.

Grabbed my coat,

Turned my face upwards,

Greeted familiar landmarks in the sky.

It’s so easy in winter 

To come home from work in the dark,

Spend the evening indoors,

Miss the simple wonder outside

Of a ceiling of stars.

The owls were quiet tonight

As I stood

Starbathing.

Waiting for inspiration

I have been wondering where my next painting will come from,

When I’ll feel like picking up my brushes again.

I don’t force it,

Inspiration can come in waves, or drops,

It trickled through this weekend,

First, a glimpse of a dusty canvas,

A feeling that I’d like to play with paint on it,

But not knowing what the subject would be.

Then, brightening up breakfast, goldfinches on the bird feeder.

Later, out birding,  I glimpsed a tawny owl, roosting in a tree.

I watched a kingfisher, blue and orange among ochre reeds,

It caught three silvery fish while I watched.

And then, through my binoculars, a close up of branches and yellow lichen,

Mossy greens, rich browns and an idea takes shape,

The perfect background on which to paint

Goldfinches.

The joy of colour

I’m sitting on my sofa in north west England looking out of a big window at a eucalyptus tree, the low winter sun perfectly illuminating the branches, shades of orange-brown, cream, green and grey bark contrasting with the blue-green leaves.  Bird flit through the branches; sparrows, a blue tit, a jay. Greenfinches squabble at the bird feeder hanging from a limb.

I look at this tree in the sunshine and it makes me happy.

There are memories, Australian forests, hot days, leaves crunching beneath my feet, parrots and cockatoos travelling by, a kookaburra laughing in the distance.  Of warm dark nights surrounded by the smell of eucalyptus, the chirruping of insects, a canopy of leaves and stars.

But not just memories. The here and now, and wondering how colour and shape and texture combine to such perfection, to create such joy.

Landscapes of the soul

I went for a walk at the weekend in one of my favourite places in the world.  Through woods and along the shore of Lake Windermere.  

Walking for an hour or so, admiring the trees silhouetted against the silvery surface of the lake, late afternoon winter sunlight lighting up the trunks in shades of orange.  Ancient sweet chestnuts, deeply fissured bark spiraling upwards, the same trees where as a child I used to gather chestnuts with my grandparents.  Past the cathedral column trunks of huge Douglas fir, forest floor dotted with ferns.   And always the gentle background lapping of water on the shore, and the breeze in the trees

Walking through layers of memories, yet alive to the present moment; that leaf, that pattern of branches against the sky, the low angled sun on the root plate of a fallen tree.  

The sun set early, only a few weeks from the winter solstice.  Leaving behind a silvery sky to match the lake.  And the moon, rising above an old farmhouse, the smell of woodsmoke in the air.

Just an hour or so in a place I love.  Sustenance for the whole week.  

The power of place. 

A landscape of the soul.