Forest Bathing

At a conference,

head bursting with ideas.

Talks about nature and wellbeing,

beauty, emotions,

the benefit of mindful ‘forest bathing’,

the importance of nature connections.

Invigorating subjects

dried up by windowless rooms,

air conditioning,

artificial lighting

and too many strangers.

Break time and I escape

into a bookshop.

Funny how I always end up in one of these

when the urban world becomes too much.

My shoulders drop as I cross the threshold,

calm among wood

pulped and pressed into pages,

the ghosts of trees.

A forest of paper and words,

and silence.

I feel at home

I don’t read them, just soak in the cathedral-like atmosphere

and refrain from buying another expensive notebook.

I feel the benefit of a kind of forest bathing,

a tenuous connection to nature

until I can get back to the real thing.

Duddon Estuary

The clouds dispersed to reveal the estuary

domed with blue.

A cold north wind blowing

but in the shelter of a hedge

the sun felt warm, springlike

with birdsong

and the first frogspawn in a ditch.

The rising, full moon high tide paused

at the outer edge of the saltmarshes

where the birds gathered;

curlew, oystercatcher, redshank.

Then the sea quietly,

relentlessly, marched on over the marshes

scattering birds, forming islands of green

that gradually disappeared underwater.

A stream of sea pushed in past our feet

to the railway embankment

signalling the time to leave

this inbetween place

to the sea and sky

and the birds.

Counting birds

These graphs tell a story

A ski slope line runs from the year I was born,

Downhill to today.

A precipitous decline

In numbers

Or visualise it another way.

A gullimot fledgling’s daring plunge from the cliff,

The rapid whistling descent of a displaying snipe

The airborne dive of the gannet,

The mournful cry of a lone curlew.

The echoing silence of once busy seabird cliffs,

Fields full of crops, but empty of birds,

These graphs tell a story

But the story isn’t finished

How it ends is up to us.

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.