Dawn chorus, courtesy of the birds outside my bedroom window at 5am.
from distant lands
on this windswept hillside,
the smell of exotic food
wafting in the breeze,
the sound of feet
marching into the distance.
Out of the corner of my eye
the glint of sun on metal.
Two thousand year old memories
brought to life
in my imagination.
I turn, and all I hear
is the wind, sighing
through the stones,
all I see is the wall
into the distance.
The past is close here,
there are stories
still buried beneath this land,
waiting to be heard.
Another visit to Hadrian’s Wall yesterday. The wall, forts, Roman towns, landscape and excellent museums always combine to fire up my imagination. I just find it remarkable that the Romans got this far north at all (actually they got further, to the north of Scotland). Some of the soldiers at Hadrian’s Wall were from modern day Syria. And they would have marched all the way from there to the north of England. The weather must have come as a shock.
I rediscovered my love
yours, and mine.
I take the feeling
and pour it out
across the screen
Or I wait
for the words
to pass through,
from who knows where.
from my heart
from the pages of an old notebook.
Here we are,
the sea pilgrims.
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,
the light darkens,
but inside us the sea shines silver,
and fills our hearts with light.
Evening in the garden
Surrounded by a symphony of blackbirds
Liquid songs pouring into my ears
As the sun sets
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
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
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.
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.